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For Immediate Release:
October 25, 2011


 New Program Allows Department Experts to Educate Elementary School Students about the Building and Construction Process in New York City

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced the launch of the second semester of the Junior Architects and Engineers program, a new Department initiative that educates elementary school students about the building and construction process in New York City. As a part of the unique program, Department experts, including architects, engineers and inspectors, visit schools throughout the City to provide lessons on the importance of construction to the City, the Department’s role in that process and the different ways in which buildings are constructed in the five boroughs. Last spring, more than 150 students participated in the first installment of the program, and classes were invited to tour the borough offices for a behind-the-scenes look at the construction project approval process. Today, First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fariello, R.A., and Executive Director of Technical Affairs Gus (Constadino) Sirakas, P.E., joined officials at Public School 175 in Harlem to kick off the new semester with approximately 50 fourth graders.   

“We live in a city of construction, and therefore, it’s important that children understand how their neighborhood was developed,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “Our first semester was a tremendous success for students, teachers and our own employees, and we’re proud to bring this program to more schools this year. Students have been fascinated by the different types of structures that make up their environment, and teachers are excited about incorporating this information into their curriculums. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to enrich our communities through learning.”

“Construction fuels the growth of this great City, and this program illustrates that point to New York’s youngest,” said First Deputy Commissioner Fariello. “Architects and engineers are an integral part of the development process, and this is a great opportunity to show students how that process leads to new homes, new offices and new jobs for New Yorkers.”

“Junior Architects and Engineers taught our students about the value of planning,” said Judy Dunne, a fifth-grade teacher at Public School 142 in Manhattan who invited the Department to her class earlier this year. “After receiving a step-by-step overview of the construction process, we applied the lessons to their everyday lives by stressing the importance of thinking ahead and formulating a plan for how to complete a project. In addition, they were thrilled to see their artwork on display as soon as we walked into DOB’s headquarters.”

 The Junior Architects and Engineers program consists of a two-part curriculum that starts with a 45-minute class, including simple facts such as the weight of buildings, the number of buildings in New York City and how streetscapes vary from borough to borough. At the end of each class, students are asked to draw pictures of their favorite building in their respective borough. As a part of the program, teachers are provided with a basic set of construction plans so they can apply simple concepts in math and science to the day’s lesson. The program also offers Department employees with an opportunity to share their knowledge of architecture and engineering with students who may be interested in pursuing a career in the field.

In the weeks following the class, students are invited to take a field trip to one of the Department’s borough offices, where they can see their artwork on public display and understand how construction is regulated throughout the City. For example, students who visited the Manhattan office earlier this year were able to review the construction plans for the 72-story residential tower at 8 Spruce Street with Damian Titus, the plan examiner who approved the new building. 

As part of the fall semester, the Department will visit: 

  • Public School 175 in Manhattan;
  • Public School 33 in Manhattan;
  • Public School 120 in Brooklyn;
  • Public School 31 in Staten Island; and
  • Public School 499 in Flushing, Queens. 

Registration is open for the spring semester, which will begin in March 2012. To learn more about the program, visit or email 

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Jen Gilbert (212) 566-3473
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