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Articles by Alex Gilliam

Alex Gilliam is a national expert on K–12 design education and a senior lecturer in the Design Department at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He founded Public Workshop, an organization that redefines the way youth and communities participate as citizens and leaders in the design of their neighborhoods and cities. Gilliam’s work has been featured on NPR’s Studio 360 and in magazines such as Metropolis, ID, and the Architect’s Newspaper.

Featured Article

Cross-posted from LAB|Log.

One evening about a year ago, staff members at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., did something a bit unusual as they prepared to close the LEGO building area for the evening. Charmed by its simple beauty, they spared a rather handsome yellow pyramid created by one of the museum’s visitors from their ruthlessly thorough daily LEGO disassembly process. Instead of completely “wiping the slate clean” for the next day’s visitors, on this evening they broke with tradition and positioned the pyramid in a prominent place in the building area.

Not long after the museum’s opening the next morning, I shuffled into the LEGO room. It was filled with the typical assortment of visitors, happily building … pyramids, in every imaginable shape, size, and color. In fact, the room was beginning to positively overflow with them.

Walk into the LEGO “free-play” building area at the Building Museum on any given day, and you will see a room filled with people of all ages and backgrounds, eagerly building away. Many of these people — architecture students, 10-year-olds, grandfathers with their grandchildren, tourists — spend enti... Read more