Westfield architect creates book series for kids

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Gary Vance’s bucket list has always included an ambition to write a children’s book about architecture.

“The goal of the book is to introduce architecture and design to school-aged children, K-12,” Vance said. “In addition, another goal is to connect with minority and underprivileged children who do not have opportunities to learn about architecture and design.”

The Westfield resident’s first book is “Kid Architect Goes To Columbus, Indiana.” It was published in September 2019. His second book, “Kid Architect Goes To Indiana,” is scheduled to be released June 16.

A 1977 Ball State College of Architecture graduate, Vance said Ball State students visited Columbus often to view its architecture.

“It was kind of a learning laboratory for us,” he said.

Columbus is rated the sixth-most important architectural city in the U.S. with more than 80 important architectural buildings.

“So, it was a natural first book for us,” Vance said. “Somehow, you have to strike the itch in kids to become architects or designers. We’re going to have 10 percent less high school graduates 18 years from today than we had this year. So, our population is declining and we’re going to have trouble filling roles or architect, engineer, doctor, lawyer.

“We are trying stimulate the interest of architecture to young people and help introduce it to them.”

Vance, who runs his own architecture firm, Vance Consulting, said another goal is to connect with minority and underprivileged children who do not have opportunities to learn about architecture and design.

“Importantly, ‘Kid Architect’ is not a boy or girl, not a color or creed, not any nationality or not any ethnicity,” said Vance, who is a fellow in the American Institute of Architects and in the American College of Healthcare Architects. 

The book is designed so readers can see themselves as the narrator during the exploration of architecture.

The book includes Carmel’s roundabout sculptures, Lucas Oil Stadium and Indiana University’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Vance has not decided on locations for a third book. All the books are hardcover.

Vance’s daughter, Elizabeth Wells, is a co-author and lives in Westfield. Wells is a former elementary school teacher.

“Elizabeth did all the STEAM pages and reviews all the content to make sure I’m writing things kids would understand,” he said.

Vance’s daughter-in-law, Lauren Vance, was the book’s graphic designer and lives in Brecksville, Ohio. Lauren is married to Vance’s son, Benjamin.

Vance’s wife, Denise, is the manager of the “Kid Architect” series and handles all of the logistical and financial aspects of the book series

Vance said the first book took a year to create and the second took six months.

“The reason we do say the series can be for ages from 5 to 95 is that adults are really interested in architecture,” he said. “They’re interested in designs and buildings.”

Prior to schools closing because of the coronavirus pandemic, Vance participated in Innovation Nights at Monon Trail Elementary March 4 and Washington Woods Elementary March 11.

The books are available at Turn the Page, Westfield, Nickel Plate Arts, Noblesville, and at amazon.com and kidarchitectbook.com.


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