Reaching New Heights

Reaching New Heights
Posted on 06/25/2024
Art 2D design students at Alamo Heights High School soared to New Heights by participating in a unique program that brought architecture to life inside and outside the classroom.

“Since 2017 we’ve been doing the New Heights program where architects come into the classroom and introduce students to classical architecture and its influence on design throughout history.” said art teacher Casey Fallis.

Alamo Heights is the first public school district to implement the New Heights program in collaboration with the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA). It’s become the model for an anticipated rollout of similar programs across the state and potentially across the nation.

Architect Andrew Gander is an Associate at Michael G. Imber Architects and a Board Member for the Texas chapter of the ICAAt. He and his colleagues spent time in the classroom and out in the field with students.

Architect demo to class of students around table“I don’t think it’s obvious to most people the connection between art and architecture,” Gander said. “We’re really trying to highlight that link.”

During their first session, students were given sketchbooks and asked to take part in an activity that the architects do each week- Sketch Club. In short spans of time, as little as two minutes, students sketched buildings from photos. It was a quick introduction to some of the art skills necessary in the profession.

Students also took a guided walking tour of downtown with stops to learn about the architecture of landmarks like the Spanish Governor’s Palace, San Fernando Cathedral, the Menger Hotel, the Alamo and the Pearl Stable and Bottling Plant.

“The highlight is probably the field trip,” said junior Ella Gilene. “My biggest takeaway is I know more about architecture and it makes me more comfortable going forward with that as my career. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but this whole study has opened my eyes. This is something I think I can do.”

Class poses in front of San Fernando CathedralThe culminating experience is an art show, highlighting student work completed during the New Heights program. Each student was tasked to create an analytique, or visual representation of a San Antonio landmark they visited on the field trip. The finished watercolor paintings were displayed for family members and the architects who worked with the New Heights program.

“I feel like I understand the places around me a lot better and it’s a lot more interesting,” said junior Mimi Soupiset. “I used to think architecture was just all straight lines and always using a ruler, but getting to learn how it’s very artistic and creative was really interesting for me.”

Junior Cameron Carothers appreciated the insights shared by the professional architects and said the experience deepened his interest in architecture.

Artist explains artwork“I’ve considered architecture as a career path in the future and this has made it a lot more clear to me now that I know much more and I’m honing in on some skills that I didn’t have previously but could definitely use if I go down that path,” Carothers said.

For the architects who have donated their time and expertise, that’s the ultimate compliment.

“We’re investing in the designers of tomorrow and that’s a real exciting responsibility,” Gander said.
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