Video: At “Building Futures” Kids Learn to Build Their Dreams

By on October 14, 2017

by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL

The story of “Building Futures.” just keeps getting better. The not-for-profit, which last year helped 650 kids, has just moved into spacious new digs,  located a block from Crown Candy in Old North at North 13th Street and St. Louis Ave. Arts mega-patron Ken Kranzberg has furnished the funds to renovate the building, which is owned by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation.

Filling the pipeline with skilled trades people is already a critical need in our industry. Building Futures introduces K-12 children to design with computers, drawing, model-building and brain power and to construction with hand and power tools.

Co-founder Gay Lorberbaum, an architect who practiced in Europe and  has taught at Washington University for 34 years, is also trained in psychology. Serving as director of the Alberti Architecture for Young People program at Wash U., she saw the need for a program to help all kids — and particularly at-risk kids — develop the neural connections between problem solving and the real world.

Five years ago she reached out to Frank Lorberbaum (her former husband), an architect and builder who had taught at the old Construction Careers Center. Together, they began operating on a shoestring, garnered a few grants, and later expanded to a storefront. They have instructors and mentors from the design, construction and law community. Now they are reaching to expand the program and move Building Futures to sustainability.

The Building Futures curriculum  inspires young people to think critically, design in two and three dimensions, and translate their design to physical objects.

The new space facilitates the yin/yang of  both connecting and separating the cerebral aspects of problem solving and the visceral whir of power saws. The darkened brick interior of the building was opened up with large windows and glassed roll-up doors. It also has a dividing wall to separate the shop area from the design section.

The Lorberbaums designed the reworked space. Building Futures has a long term lease at approximately 50 percent of market rate from the Kranzberg Foundation. Kranzberg paid the Lowerbaums  a design fee, which will cover the first 14 months rent.

Buildings Futures provides free Saturday workshops, classes in schools that can’t afford traditional shop classes, after school clubs and summer camp programs.This past Saturday 21 kids were working on design or construction of projects in the program’s morning session. After starting at 10 a.m., the session broke for lunch, which is served by a pastor in a nearby art gallery. The afternoon session had 17 students attending.

On Oct. 25 at the Moto Museum, Building Futures will be recognized at the Construction Forum Education Foundation Building Tomorrow Awards. CFEF will present the not-for-profit with a Workforce Development (Organization) award.


About Tom Finan

One Comment

  1. Sarah Stout

    10/20/2017 at 9:15 AM

    This is such great news. Congratulations.Every city needs a project like yours. Every kid needs a future