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Final Presentation for the Spring 2010 session of CityVision
Watch the Spring 2010 CityVision final presentations.

Founded in 1993, CityVision is an award-winning outreach program that uses design as a framework to teach District of Columbia public school students how to become active participants in shaping their communities. Through extensive fieldwork and mentoring at the National Building Museum, students identify needs and propose solutions designed to help local neighborhoods.  

Program Goals

In CityVision, participants:

  • Develop problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Learn technical skills, including sketching and architectural drawing, photography, scale, and model building
  • Practice negotiation and collaboration while working as a team
  • Sharpen public speaking and communication skills
  • Explore careers in architecture, engineering, construction and design

How does the program work?

CityVision takes place during the fall and spring of the academic year, and is made possible by a close collaboration between the National Building Museum and D.C. Public Schools and Public Charter Schools. Each year, middle schools integrate CityVision as part of their curriculum and offer participating students academic credit for completing the program.

Up to 15 students are selected from each school to attend the CityVision program during the fall or spring semester. Participants meet for a full school day, once per week for 12 weeks, to work with Museum staff, educators, and design professionals, on fun, challenging, hands-on activities.

Early CityVision sessions are devoted to teaching participants about the basic elements of the design process. Next, participants work in teams to explore selected neighborhoods where they observe and collect information about the community’s most urgent needs. Each team then develops a creative solution that addresses those needs, creating architectural drawings and models of their design. The program culminates in a final public presentation, in which team members defend their work to a panel of professionals.

How can I get involved in CityVision?

If you are a design professional or student in the fields of architecture, urban planning, or education who would be interested in helping inner-city youth learn about design and the built environment, consider volunteering at the Museum. Volunteers must be able to commit to a minimum of two Thursdays per month, but are strongly encouraged to attend each session. Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. 

Students or recent graduates who are interested in a greater commitment to CityVision are invited to apply for an intern position in the Outreach Department. Interns act as volunteer instructors and assist with the administration of the program. Learn more about internships at the Museum.

Become a school partner
If your school is interested in becoming a partner, please contact the Teen Programs Coordinator. Your school must be a part of the D.C. Public Schools system or D.C. Charter Schools System, and must also recruit a staff member to accompany the students to the program each week.


For more information, please contact the Teen Programs Manager at 202.272.2448 or email

Sample Projects

Spring 2010

A student works on a site model for the Southeast Waterfront.
NBM Staff

The spring 2010 CityVision participants explored three sites along both sides of the Anacostia River on the Southeast Waterfront. Students from John Burroughs Education Campus and Stuart-Hobson Middle School worked with professionals from the National Capital Planning Commission, and other local organizations, to design plans for this emerging area. Highlights from the three plans include: an underwater library in the Anacostia River near the Florida Rock site, an arts and recreation center surrounded by gardens on Poplar Point, and a large entertainment complex, boardwalk and ferris wheel on the Navy Yards site. All of the plans included wetlands to help improve the Anacostia River. 

Fall 2009

During the fall 2009 CityVision, the Museum partnered with the National Capital Planning Commission to work with local youth on designing a new White House Visitor Center.  Students from Browne Education Campus and Columbia Heights Education Campus were challenged to explore three sites around the White House, interview tourists and government officials, and think creatively about design.  For their final public presentation, students developed proposals for improving the quality of the experience for people who visit, live, or work in or near the White House.

Fall 2008 and Spring 2009

Partnering for the 2008-2009 CityVision program, the National Building Museum and the District of Columbia Office of Planning challenged CityVision students to examine and deck over a section of Interstate 395 between E Street & Massachussetts Avenue. The Interstate 395 project reconnected the neighborhoods of Penn Quarter and Union Station. Students were asked to identify what type of development meets the needs of both communities and then presented their final projects to the public. This experience enriched their education and gave them the foundation to express their ideas and opinions about their city and its development.

A CityVision participant interviews a local woman to learn more about a DC community.
Photo by Museum staff

Fall 2006 and Spring 2007

The National Building Museum and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) partnered for the 2006-2007 CityVision programs which focused on the design of museum and monument designs for sites identified by the National Capital Planning Commission’s Memorials and Museums Master Plan. 

Spring 2006

LeDroit Park: CityVision participants explored the neighborhood’s physical surroundings and examined the area’s historic relationship with Howard University. Students also documented the distinct architectural features of LeDroit Park through photographs and free-hand sketching. As participants met with residents and identified the existing land use in the neighborhood, they noted a lack of support services for the community. The team’s design proposes to rehabilitate a vacant building into a community center. The proposed 3-story u-shaped building contains spaces for recreation, a library and computer room, child care center, grocery store, and a health clinic. Students thought deeply about the relationships of these varying services, grouping similar functions such as the health clinic and child care center next to each other. Students also addressed the building’s exterior by creating an elevated pedestrian bridge between the two building wings, and proposing new plantings in the interior courtyard.


CityVision Spring 2009
A CityVision volunteer and student work together to learn about scale measurement.
Museum Staff



CityVision is generously supported by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; The Tower Companies; DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities; Clark Charitable Foundation; Sunrise Foundation; American Society of Interior Designers; Kelly Family Cuidiu Foundation; Zeldin Family Foundation; and an anonymous donor. Geppetto Catering, Inc. is the official meal provider of Teen Programs at the National Building Museum.