NJIT teaches high school students architecture box by box

A roof in the shape of a pyramid built from dozens of United Parcel Service (UPS) boxes took best design yesterday in a competition at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Two dozen high school students from throughout New Jersey, as well as the surrounding states, participated in the event sponsored by the New Jersey School of Architecture (NJSOA).

Five, eight-foot-high spiraling columns of stacked UPS boxes supported the three-dimensional pentagonal roof. Five sets of cartons--multiple cartons in each one-- were internally seamed into giant flat triangles to form the roof. Each triangle was then attached to the other and angled to create a peak. Other buildings in the competition--also made from UPS boxes-- included circular rooms with built-in benches.

To understand better what it's like to be a professional architect, the students, who stayed overnight at NJIT, spent most of their time participating in a studio design class. Students in NJIT's five-year bachelor's degree program in architecture must successfully complete 10 studio courses. NJIT architecture professors generally have high expectations from these courses and it was no different for the high schoolers who were asked to create, in less than a day, a one-room "think space" that would fill their allotted twelve-foot-square area in NJSOA's ground-floor gallery. Tape, glue and 3000 thin rectangular shipping cartons were the only materials used.

NJSOA Associate Dean Jim Dyer and architects, Darius Sollohub, associate professor, and Lauren Crahan, adjunct professor, organized the sessions.

"In the three years that we have been building with UPS boxes, we've never had a successful dome with these cartons," said Sollohub. "Every year there is a structural collapse and that's okay. That's the way you learn. While not quite a dome, the pyramidal structure this group of students built is remarkably strong."

Student architects of the winning structure were Erin McGee, Mountainside, Governor Livingston High School, Berkeley Heights; Dave Occhipinti, Mahwah, Don Bosco Preparatory High School, Ramsey; Blair Haggett, Burke, VA, Lake Braddock Secondary High School, Burke; Jonathan Lyons, Cedar Grove, Cedar Grove High School; Nathan Akers, Elizabethtown, PA, Lower Dauphin High School, Hummelstown, PA.

"We try during these courses to simulate every aspect of architecture education as well as what it is like once someone might go to work as an architect," said Sollohub. "The program is of value to a student considering architecture as a course of study because it tests the skills the profession requires including design, construction, city planning and management. If a student is excited by, or discovers they have an aptitude for one of these aspects, architecture might be a rewarding profession for them. "

Anthony Schuman, NJSOA professor and graduate program director said that the session gives students an idea of how a design studio works from program statement through to final presentation and critique.


All summer programs include meals, rooms, linens and supplies. Admitted students must have either minimum combined SAT verbal and math scores of 1060 or must provide a copy of the student's report card from the most recent two quarters and class rank, if available. Acceptance is based on space availability and academic standing. The short program costs $225; the longer class runs $998. All students received a certificate of successful completion which can be used in the admissions application.

New Jersey participants included Newark residents Jennifer Ramos and Justin Acal; Bob, Miller, Westfield; A. Michael Bover, Scotch Plains; Ryan, Dolin, Livingston. Others from New Jersey were David Feigenbaum, Hackettstown; Anthony Landi, Summit; Ellen Marston, Tenafly; Thomas Martino, Jackson. Still more New Jersey residents were Matthew Pritchett - Kuntz, Bridgeton and Ashley Rauenzahn, Ocean City.

New Yorkers included Robert P. Baldino, Scarsdale; Jonathan Ellis, Yonkers; Matthew LaBrake, Valley Cottage; Ryan Byrne, Wantagh. Pennsylvania participants were Lucas Anthony Moore, Washington; Patrick Boyle, North Wales; Matthew Keehn, Havertown.

Others were Andrea Beck, Winston-Salem, NC; Evan Collins, Fairfax Station, VA; Kate Lisi, Orange, CT; Andre Trzaskowski, Wells, ME.

NJSOA is now accepting applications for fall semester 2007. For more information about the school or enrollment in the 2007 summer program for high school students, contact Dyer at [email protected] .

New Jersey Institute of Technology, the state's public technological research university, enrolls more than 8,100 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 100 degree programs offered by six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. NJIT is renowned for expertise in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and eLearning. In 2006, Princeton Review named NJIT among the nation's top 25 campuses for technology recognizing the university's tradition of research and learning at the edge in knowledge.

Editor's Note: Reporters who would like to attend the later sessions July 10-11 and 16-21, 2006, should contact Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436. Enrollment in the classes has been closed since early May.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.