Using architecture to teach problem-solving

Teachers and architects collaborate to design a curriculum resource for engaging students in a dialogue about the local built environment.



In 2013, the American Institute of Architects offered repositioning grant opportunities to local chapters all over the United States. These grants creatively address the AIA’s vision of member service, collaboration, and advocacy. The AIA East Tennessee chapter received a grant to teach critical thinking skills to grade school and high school students using the local built environment and the design process. At a time when public school education in the U.S. is in transition, and challenged to meet education goals set forth in Common Core State Standards, architects will find gratifying the prospect of positive intervention by their local AIA chapter

by offering schoolchildren the opportunity to enhance their higher order thinking skills through exposure to the design process. This program will facilitate the learning of critical-thinking skills of students (grades 4-12) by demonstrating how the design process works. The active participation of associate architects (those not yet licensed) and young architects (those recently licensed) will be a high priority in the implementation of the project. These professionals will collaborate with teachers in the classroom to develop presentations and activities useful to their curriculum. Please check out the video and resources offered on our site.




Supporting Material:
To compliment the video, supporting documents have been created to assist participants in the classroom. These items will serve as guides to further enrich the classroom experience. 
Supporting classroom materials (word docx file):
Teaching Critical Thinking through Architecture  Download
Knoxville Architecture Download
Critical Thinking in Architecture Download
Tools for Critical Thinking and Idea Generating  Download



The four following structures are featured in the AIA Grant Video. For each structure, a video clip, information, and photos have been included for classroom use. Additional structures have also been included to provide further discussion and learning opportunities.



Click on the photo stream to see additional structures not featured in the video. These are great examples to continue classroom discussion.




An AIA Repositioning Innovation Grant was awarded to AIA East TN in the late summer of 2013. Now we want you to participate!


We invite teachers of all disciplines to participate. Grades 4-12 are recommended. Discussions can be tailored to suit your classroom appropriately.


We invite associate members and young architects to provide professional guidance to local teachers as they implement the Architecture as a vehicle for Critical Thinking program in their classrooms.


Architecture: Problem Solving through Critical Thinking


Partner with Knox County School’s teachers to further facilitate the video we have produced and talk to students about the architecture profession. Professionals may be invited into the classroom (up to 3 times) on an invitational basis. Individual teachers and professionals may collaborate together about how to share this process with students once they've been matched.

IDP credit and AIA CEU credit available.



If you would like more information or want to find out how you can get more involved, feel free to contact us.

Address: 1300 North Broadway
Phone: 865.637.5003
E-mail: compexec@aiaetn.org 

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Grant Funding
Repositioning Innovation Fund: American Institute of Architects

Project Sponsor

East Tennessee Chapter, AIA

AIA Chapter Task Force
Richard Foster, AIA, LEED AP
Brandon Pace, AIA, LEED AP
Megan Paris, Assoc. AIA
Paul Scoonover
Susanne Tarovella, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

AIA Coordinator
Gene Burr, AIA, AICP


Educator Consultant
Suzanne Wedekind, Knox County Schools

Bruce Cole
Asen Photo


Videography & Editing
Asen Marketing & Advertising