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'Drafting Dreams' Teaches Pittsburgh-Area Youth Math, Design Through Architecture

Elaine Effort
90.5 WESA
Christian Hughes of Homewood-based Drafting Dreams. The community program teaches Pittsburgh-area K-12 students the principles of architecture and design.

Drafting Dreams is a Homewood-based program that teaches Pittsburgh-area K-12 students the principles of architecture and urban design.

Its founder is Christian Hughes, who spoke with 90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort about the program’s goal to get more minorities and girls interested in the architecture field. 

Below are excerpts of their conversation for our series 90.5 WESA Celebrates: 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Hughes on using architecture as a way to engage students with the principles of math and design:

“You always have the student who, anything with math, they're here for it. You have the one who maybe says, 'Math is not my strong suit; I don't want to do this.' So the way that we kind of rope them in is, first, just through our interpersonal relationship with them. Just a little bit of relationship-building on the front end to encourage them and get them to understand that architecture is not just this one component that you may not be so strong at.

Most students really get over those fears once we begin to get them in the software, and they get the chance to really shape something that could potentially be their reality. Then they get all excited and forget that a couple of minutes ago they were spazzing out about not knowing math or et cetera.”

Hughes on the impact he sees the program having on students future studies:

"Since our first project series in 2016, we've engaged 560 or so students.

We have maybe a handful of students who are in the process of applying to colleges for architecture, or are looking to apply to colleges once they get of that age. We also have maybe two or three who are currently at university studying architecture."

Hughes on how satisfied he is with Drafting Dreams and how he envisions its future:

"I am satisfied that it is fulfilling the mission that it has been called to fulfill. But as an entrepreneur, as an innovator, as someone who really is out here for the community, if you will. There's a level of comfortability that I tend to not fall into. Because, for me, it's about constantly innovating, constantly pivoting.

So, I'm satisfied that Drafting Dreams is doing the work that we say we do, but I try not to get too comfortable in how well we do it, so that I can always continue improving and am always open for different ways of doing things."