HMFH Architects

Design Thinking Day

As part of our second year participating in the Design Thinking Day program, run by the BSA Foundation in partnership with the Boston Private Industry Council, we invited Boston Public High School students to come to our office to learn about architecture and practice thinking like a designer.

The day began with an icebreaker activity to get students thinking critically about design. They looked over pinned-up photos that showed architecture in a variety of styles, and wrote down the qualities, both literal and abstract, that drew them to certain images. These qualities ranged from interesting juxtapositions, like the presence of modern design in a rural setting, to familiar motifs, like a building with curves that resembled both a heart rate monitor and a wave.

Students then gained more insight into the design process through a tour of our office, where they saw firsthand the many tools—from 3-D printers to VR software—that allow our teams to develop and communicate a design vision.

After a tour of the office (and a virtual tour of one of our recently completed projects), students engaged in a hands-on project to deepen their thinking about school design. They determined the qualities of their ideal learning spaces by evaluating how they learn best. Is their ideal space busy, solitary, or somewhere in between? What kinds of activities—drawing, reading, collaborating with peers—most effectively help them learn new skills and information?

Equipped with a variety of recycled materials and plenty of pizza, the students began building models of their ideal learning environments. One student designed a space with a spacious central area that could be used for exercise. Noting that he enjoys the option to look outside, he also incorporated an open area that maximizes views to the outdoors from the indoor seating.

After a day of drawing, building, listening, and collaborating, students deepened their understanding of architecture and took away design thinking skills that will help them think creatively in and outside of the classroom.