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Architecture After School – Shaping Our Community Together

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Omaha facilitated the “Architecture After School” program with 12 Omaha Public School students from Gilder Elementary School in Bellevue, Nebraska. This program sponsored by RDG, AIA Nebraska Omaha, Kaneko, and Kids Can consisted of eight weekly after school training sessions on discovering architecture and design through Nebraska nature, history, exploration, drawing exercises, and hands-on building activities. 

Towards the end of the program, the class ventured on a “featured project” to the First Street Plaza Pavilion in Papillion, which reflects a nature pavilion in Gilder Park. With shaded tables and a large water feature, First Street Plaza was a great spot to stop and relax in the downtown area. The plaza provides a myriad of functions including a fun water feature, outdoor stage, and B-Cycle station and serves as a central focus in a Community.After visiting the Pavilion, students toured several architectural offices, met with design professionals, and were able to recognize different ends of scale and scope within the industry. The overall goal of the field trip was allowing students to see projects similar to one developed in a studio and gain insight on what how design professionals are impacting our community.  

“The purpose of these two sessions – exterior elevations and field trips – is exposure. Exposure to real life buildings in their community – how they blend in (or stand out) from the built forms around them, how they inform what goes on inside. Also, exposure to professionals and the spaces they work in, to show different scopes of architectural practice – to let the students know there is not “one way” of practicing architecture.”

– Greg Galbreath, RDG Planning & Design Architect

In the session above, RDG architect and AIA Omaha past president Greg Galbreath discusses the importance of exterior elevation and how it can change the way we understand what we see. We performed an exercise for students to visualize what a building will look like – how to see a real building in a plan and experience it from the outside – in. Students were encouraged to experiment with plan details and see how they influence the exterior of the building. Tape measures were used to design plan layouts showcasing key elements of scale, entourage, line weights, and details. At the end of the session, students presented their ideas to the class. 

Since 2016, Kaneko and industry partner AIA Omaha, RDG, and other architecture firms have hosted day camps focused on architecture. A benefit to these programs is the cost factor. This year, AIA Nebraska Omaha and Kids Can joined the efforts in offering the Architecture After School program to provide opportunities for kids who might not be able to attend otherwise. 

“AIA Nebraska is committed to mentoring and educating children about the value of architecture in Nebraska and believe every child should have an opportunity to participate in such programs.”

– Sara A. Kay, Hon AIA, Executive Director

RDG architect and AIA Omaha president elect Katie Ramsbottom participated in this after school event, as well, stating “This program is a great opportunity to expose elementary students to the architecture profession and spur their interest in the industry at an early age!”

Educational opportunities provided at an early age support exploration into future careers. We hope programs like Architecture After School will inspire and excite children about the architecture industry. RDG is honored to be a partner and play a role in shaping children’s development and our community. 

“Kids Can was so excited to be a part of the AIA/RDG partnership. Instruction is fun, relaxed, and hands-on, with group and individual activities to keep students of different ages engaged with the fundamentals of architecture. This program introduced our afterschool students into a exciting and empowering career field that merges STEM and creativity. It furthered our mission to educate, engage and inspire children.”

– John Brady, Kids Can Community Center Out Of School Program Manager

If you would like more information about this program, please contact Greg Galbreath at

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