City Design Center Overview
charting community assets Community Design Excellence curriculum support public forums participants

Interactive Websites

Teaching History Through Architecture
Begun in Spring 1997

Faculty members of the City Design Center and the Chicago Imagebase project are continuing their collaboration with the Chicago Teachers’ Center of Northeastern Illinois University on the Teaching History through Architecture Project. The objective is to develop an engaging and interactive Internet-based learning model using the history of architecture in the students’ communities as its subject matter. The need for this model is apparent. George Hemmens: “It is a constant surprise to see how little the typical public school curriculum deals with the built environment. On the other hand, when they get a chance, there is nothing more interesting to students than dealing with their own house or the ones around them - drawing them, interviewing neighbors and relatives, doing research on the building history.” Funded since 1997 by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Teaching History Through Architecture project addresses the need to develop and identify websites to assist middle school teachers in the Chicago Public Schools to develop curriculum related to Chicago’s built environment.
The project recently expanded its core of teachers with new funds from the U. S. Department of Education Gear Up Initiative. Middle school teachers from eleven schools representing ten neighborhoods are involved. In 1999, the City Design Center hosted two groups of teachers, orienting them to the Teaching History Through Architecture Project’s mission and works in progress and helping them to brainstorm specific ways to engage in curriculum and website development. Currently, the Teachers’ Center is developing digital resources that support both school-based work in the Fall 2000 and serve as a resource for a three week Summer Academy that includes Chicago public middle school students. Melinda Morrisey, program associate for the Chicago Teacher’s Center, stressed the importance of this program: “This growing partnership is exposing teachers to City Design Center’s community based work in participatory planning, providing them with new ways to address students inquiry into the built environment. This is particularly useful for teachers in neighborhoods undergoing great change, usually due to gentrification. This coming year we are looking forward to accessing digital materials being compiled by CDC which will be invaluable in supporting student research.”

chicago map with project location
Map of Chicago with project location

City Design Center Affiliated Faculty and Staff


Robert Bruegmann, Professor, Department of Art History
Alex Stern, Associate Director, Adjunct Associate Professor School of Architecture, Technology Coordinator College of Architecture and the Arts


Diane Farley, former Program Coordinator, City Design Center
George Hemmens, former Professor, College of Urban Planning and Policy, and former Co-Director, City Design Center

Chicago Teachers' Center Staff

Melinda Morrissey, Program Associate, Chicago Teachers’ Center
David Sperling, Program Associate, Chicago Teachers’ Center

Collaborating Organizations

Chicago Public Schools
Chicago Teachers’ Center, Northeastern Illinois University


National Endowment for the Humanities
U.S. Department of Education Gear Up Initiative
transparent spacer image transparent spacer image transparent spacer image transparent spacer image transparent spacer image transparent spacer image