The Box City Experience: Educating Elementary Children Through Architecture

I am pleased to announce the publication of a book titled The Box City Experience: Educating Elementary Children Through Architecture (Salt Lake City: VCBO Architecture & Uinta Elementary School, 2015). During the spring of this year, my colleagues and I had the privilege of teaching 5th graders at Uinta Elementary School in Salt Lake City about architectural concepts which led to each student designing their own building as part of a larger town plan. The book documents the lessons, creative process, and final design of each student project and was edited and designed by Corey Bowman, Kristi Faught, and myself.

The book can be viewed at the following link:


2015What is the Box City experience?

With scissors and glue in hand, 4th and 5th grade students in 10 classrooms transformed cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, and construction paper into bright cities Each classroom designed important places that make our cities wonderful to live in. Ranging from a dog park to a movie theater or a houseboat to highrise apartments, each element plays an important role in the city.

Nearly 300 students explored the world of design and city planning with 34 young architects and University of Utah architecture students. Box City took place over a period of twelve weeks during 2015 through the Educating Elementary Children Through Architecture (EECTA) program.

Architectural volunteers taught children about scale, space, structure, rhythm, building types, planning, and presentation skills. After the students explored design basics, they collaborated in groups to make important decisions about what to build, what materials to use, and how urban infrastructure should be organized – such as roads, parks, or sidewalks. Along the way, students learned about being part of a team, in the same way as buildings on a block are a part of a neighborhood in the city.

The Box City Experience is a book documenting the experience and design process of Ms. Jennifer Gannuscio’s 5th grade students at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City. The book is a result of the Educating Elementary Students Through Architecture (EECTA) program put on by the Utah Center for Architecture and serves as a published archive of student work.

The EECTA program was created in 2004 by the AIA Utah Young Architects Forum and was approved by the State for teaching core curriculum subjects. EECTA is now underwritten by the Utah Center for Architecture and local architectural firms generously donate staff time and/or materials.

EECTA’s 2015 Box City exhibition was on display at the City Library in Salt Lake City from April 20-24 as part of Architecture Week for the Utah Center for Architecture.


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