Teaching Resources


Units of Curriculum


Learning about architecture begins with looking at architecture. When we actually see our housing, the buildings and spaces we work in or pass on walks, in cars or other moving vehicles, there is a chance that we will want to learn more about them.

The possibilities for units of curriculum span over the several disciplines that the building of buildings or planning for made-made environments entails. YOU will decide what you can emphasize or around which you will create curriculum. Assuredly all have the possibility of meeting standards in language arts, math, science, history and art. It’s the kind of subject matter that allows us all to learn together. For some ideas, there are already well-developed websites to use; others need new cultivation. Think about which ones are appropriate for your children or classroom, or ones that might interest your parents as well. Or, ones that interest your teachers most.



See The Cleveland Guide to Architecture (identify), Maps, Bibliography and Links Pages for resource materials on the following subjects.

I. Walking the City Observable

II. Going Modern

Construction workers; the people who build buildings and the tools they use
School Rooms and City Places
Rural, Suburban and Urban
Immigrant Architecture: Cleveland Sacred Landmarks
Native American Architecture
Ancient architecture and influence on Cleveland
Industrial Buildings
Historic Preservation

Measuring buildings
Shadows and Skyscrapers
Maps and Map reading
Ratio, logic, addition, multiplication, division, area, volume, circumference, altitude

How buildings stand up
Green building
City Planning

Journals, interviews, oral histories
Changes over time
Building materials and textures
Family homes and history
Architecture and the way it makes you feel
19th century industrial buildings
Famous architects

FINE ARTS (see units on www.clevelandartandhistory.org )
Architectural Details and Aesthetics
Model making

Sample classroom organization  


A group of four students will research (using bibliography and Internet) possibilities among the buildings and decide which one interests them, and where they might see it.  While some will probably need a parent with them because of transportation, others may use public transportation. At the very least, students can explore their own school building and neighborhoods.  (The idea is that there may be more than one student interested in the same architecture so they would have partners/peers in the development of the assignment. Also, some of these institutions would be valid for visitation by the whole class.)


  • To develop language arts skills by group and individual discussion and decision-making, formulating questions for interviewing, writing journals, note taking, report writing. Writing and editing documents, using correct grammar and punctuation.

  • To develop social skills in interrelating with architects and builders by understanding the role of the inquirer, visitor, student, mentor, artist 


The materials will provide an opportunity for students to grasp an understanding of architects in the context of our history, in the context of their work as architects, and how the work of architects affects our daily lives. 


Sample curriculum process 


For over 100 years, Cleveland architecture has been known for quality especially in some of our churches, banking halls, early public housing, industrial buildings and residences.  Look at the buildings you see in your neighborhood, on the rapid transit or bus, in a car as you go here or there.  


Identify one public building and one residence that you would like to explore. 


  • Think about why these buildings attract your attention. 
  • Name the building materials used 
  • Find out when the buildings were built. 


Identify an architect from the past: 


  • When the architect was born and when this architect died. 
  • Where that architect was born. 
  • How the architect learned to work at his/her art. 
  • What materials/tools the architect used. 
  • What areas of study does the architect apply in the work (math, science chemistry/physics), oral and written skills 
  • What subjects the architect explored  
  • Where/how did this architect get ideas? 
  • Who determines exactly what gets built? 
  • Where/how can we see this and other buildings by the architect? 
  • Describe two other important historical events that went on during this artist’s lifetime. 


Select an architect living today whose work you like. 

In planning to interview/visit this architect in his/her workplace or studio think about questions you think you would like to ask. You might start by looking carefully at the workplace and describing it as if you were a newspaper reporter. Some questions may occur to you, but you might start with some like the following.


  • How did this architect learn how to work at his/her art?
  •  Does he/she always use the same tools?  Why? Why not?
  • How have the architect’s materials changed over the years?
  • How have building materials changed over the years?
  • Construct other questions you would like to ask this artist 


Architect-in-school visit


The class should build in the opportunity to have one architect visit the school.  This would happen in the Spring, and the class would select the architect to be invited after reporting on their experiences earlier in the year. 


To prepare for this invitation, students would brainstorm from their oral history experiences. A decision-making process would result in the choice of an architect.  The interviewer of the architect and his/her team would issue the invitation and generally arrange details with the architect, the class and the school.  General questions might start the discussion.


  • Which architect would we like to invite to work with the whole class?
  • What makes you want this architect to visit your school?
  • Would you like to create something of your own with building materials?
  • What materials will you need?  


One sample curriculum unit-  

(Teachers should adopt to their classrooms)


Teachers who participated in the Cleveland State University workshops for developing the www.clevelandartandhistory.org  website in 2004, provided samples of the richness of what could be developed. One unit “Architecture of Cleveland’s Gilded Age” for U.S. & World History; Grade 9, applicable to the Ohio Standards/OGT, covering the era of the Second Industrial Revolution/”Captains of Industry”/”Gilded Age” referenced several images on the website.  From the images of Severance Hall, Cleveland Art Museum, Cleveland Public Library, Society Bank Building, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland - Image and the Terminal Tower Interior, students could be made aware of the art embodied in the architecture of late 19th and early 20th century public architecture in Cleveland and of the financial power of Cleveland during the “Gilded Age” and the wealth that is demonstrated by these buildings. They would be able to identify the Classical elements of the public architecture, and relate the image of classical themes to the aim of the designers, understand that the intention of the architects/ builders and their clients was to establish an image of wealth/power and substance through this architecture and that these public structures were to be a series of tangible public images that verified Cleveland’s status as a “world class” city.  The students would be asked: 

A.        What type of image/feeling does this building bring to mind when you look at it? 
B.        What statement do you think the builders/patrons were trying to make with this building? 
C.        What style of architecture from the past do these buildings borrow from? 
D.        Why would the builders/patrons choose this style of architecture? 


Finally the students would 1) Become aware that the sponsorship of neoclassical public architecture was a way for an individual/community/business to make a “statement” about their wealth/influence and importance while making an important philanthropic contribution to the community. 2.) Have the opportunity to tie this into the past, throughout history, ancient and Rome, Middle Ages, & Renaissance, wealthy patrons/groups of patrons paid for and dedicated to the community everything from triumphal arches, theaters, amphitheaters, temples and other public art to enrich their communities and enhance their reputations within their communities. 3.) Become aware of Cleveland’s world class past during the late 19th and through much of the 20th centuries.  (Students often perceive Cleveland as a “has  been” city). 4.) Become aware of how important public art/architecture is in the making of a city’s self-image and public image nationally and abroad, and the economic benefits that come to cities that take the time/resources to invest in themselves.  Simply put people from around the country/world want to do business with winners, and public art/architecture is a sure demonstration of the success of that city. 5) Consider examples of great contemporary architecture. Where are these buildings? Who are the architects? What was the process by which they were selected? 


Assure that units include the elements in creating a building---what make it stand, last, interesting, and useful to the owners, residents, and finally, the public/community.  And, finally, how aesthetically satisfying it is.


Hands-On Projects 

HANDS-ON BUILDING  (suggested beginnings for relationship to modern architecture)


FIND a spot in the school or outside the school where students can build (in the manner of a modern building during a semester incorporating:  If this is not possible, the hands-on experience can be scaled down to table models.  



  • Incorporating (math, art, research (history), (language arts—reading, writing and presentation skills) 
    • Is there a “place” concept—where is this house—what was there before? [Could incorporate some “digging into history of place”—simulated excavation?]  East High example 
  • What are the things we need to think about in planning a house? 
    • The land: size, shape, description (rocky, grassy, concrete?) 
    • How big will it be? 
    • How many people will live in it?  How do they relate to each other? 
    • How many and what kind of rooms will it have? 
    • Where will the family be together? 
    • Where will individuals have their own place? 
    • What rooms need to be largest?   
      • What activities will take place in these rooms? 
    • What rooms will be smallest? 
    • Which rooms belong 1) close to each other 2) away from each other? 3) Private? 4) Open? 
  • What skills are needed to build a house? [Math (for measuring), Language Arts (for gathering data, for describing and asking questions), a Team of people who can think together: people who like to find out things about the past or history or the nature of the land under the house, or where the water will come from etc. etc.  
  • Materials: what are the most important materials that a modern house might be sure to incorporate? 
    • What are the demands of this climate in terms of material? 



Architects in residence for scheduled periodic help in planning and implementation  

·        Students should understand how this role relates to what the architect’s do on their own projects.   


Projected Outcomes 


Students will be stimulated to explore their own environments from an architectural as well as an art and history perspective.  They will have hands-on focused experience encompassing their neighborhoods and/or to city-wide organizations and institutions; the work and lives of architects, living and dead; their own interests and potential as to careers in the arts as architects, engineers, designers, and artists, or those who make the arts possible as administrators—i.e. supporters of the arts. They will be able to understand the values reflected in art forms and stylistic choices, selections among materials.  They will understand themselves in relationship to their own interests and potential. 




The units will meet competencies outlined in Comprehensive Arts Education: Ohio’s Model Competency-based Education Program and standards outlined in National Standards: What Every Young American Should Know and Be Able to Do in the Arts. In studying Architecture and its components, it is likely that math standards can also be met. The units will address Ohio and National Social Studies Standards and Math as well.  In meeting these objectives, the units will include the development of language arts competencies.  Some are mentioned for the arts and language arts in the sample curriculum elements. 


Assessment will include self-evaluation, student evaluation and teacher evaluation.  The class will improve its personal and group decision-making process.  The areas assessing evidence of individual growth as a result of involvement in this unit include individual written and expressive abilities. The classes will gain information and knowledge about this region’s architectural history by new and useful approaches. Successful completion of the units includes completion of oral histories, reports, and artwork showing gains in oral and written language arts skills. Finally, the teachers and students will gain a new understanding of and appreciation for this region.  Hopefully they will gain knowledge in interesting ways and find a growing awareness of the place of architecture in our daily lives.  An added benefit could be that they envision themselves as potential participants in the architectural process—from designer to engineer and the array of jobs related to creating and making buildings. 


 In Preliminary Work, students would be asked to evaluate architecture via pictures.  


Use current magazines, books, or website images -- whatever is most accessible. The same kind of aesthetic awareness inquiry could be given after the unit is complete. This could be a test to see for the students to see if new knowledge and exposure change their perception and appreciation of their city’s architecture.  (The students might find, (as some have), that what they called “ugly” in their own buildings became highly valued after they learned about the architectural elements.  In their evaluation process, they should be asked to “justify” their responses. 


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