Architecture 1 Students' Custom Bench Holds Broad Learnings

There's more to this bench than meets the eye

The students can’t resist. Before they step into period 9 architecture class, a group of sophomores takes a second to admire the bench nestled in the alcove outside the classroom. Some sit for a moment, then head into class, satisfied.

The 52" wide seat did not wobble, bow or shift.

The Architecture 1 students are proud of the seat’s stability because they designed and built it - entirely out of cardboard, without tape or glue. The project encompasses an investigation into structure, measuring correctly, drafting plans to scale and learning how to align a plan with an elevation—essential foundational skills of John Jay’s four-year Architecture program.

Learnings ranged from engineering to craft.

“Design is a solution to a problem,” said architecture teacher Annabelle Rolland, who practiced as an architect for twenty years before joining John Jay. “There’s a space outside our classroom; we provided people with a beautiful place to sit.”

The class hosted a grand opening for the bench the day before winter break. In its first 30 minutes, roughly 18 people sat on the bench, including School Resource Officer Brett Schlosser, Assistant Principal Dr. Samir Biswas and social studies teacher Vincenza Guiliano. It stayed solid, not a sag in sight. 

Learnings ranged from engineering to craft.

For most of December, the Architecture 1 class was a design lab, a workshop, and then a construction site.

“The first thing we worked on was determining what kind of structure could support the most weight,” said sophomore Romy Thiaucourt.

The class prototyped various support designs before identifying transverse and longitudinal pieces as the best way to provide structural support and distribute the load evenly across the bench.