Carmel author’s book series aims to interest kids in architecture


Writing a children’s book has been a dream for Carmel resident Gary Vance since he was a junior at Ball State University.

“My mom was 58 when I went to college, and she passed away when I was a junior and she had 11 grandkids, so upon that happening I thought it would be nice to do a children’s book and honor her,” Vance said.

Thirty-nine years went by and Vance, an architect, said he always had “that to do and this to do,” and his goal of writing a book remained a dream.

CIC COM 1206 Architect Book
“Kid Architect Goes to Indiana” by Gary Vance. (Photo courtesy of Gary Vance)

“But I started working for myself and had control of my schedule and what I did, and so I created it as a project, and once you do that as an architect, it gets time and attention,” Vance said.

The concept he came up with was “Kid Architect,” a way to introduce young children to architecture and related fields such as urban design, landscape design and construction management. The kid architect can go anywhere to explore and learn about architecture and public art.

The first book, “Kid Architect goes to Columbus,” is focused on buildings in the town that were designed by famous architects.

“I design hospitals and wellness centers, and I have worked with the hospital in Columbus for 24 years, so they connected me with their bookstore,” Vance said. “Then the Columbus Visitors Center took me under their wing.”

That book led to two others, “Kid Architect goes to Indiana” and “Kid Architect goes to Moody Nolan Architects.” Moody Nolan is the largest Black-owned architecture firm in the nation.

Vance said he’s received a great deal of interest in the books.

“Schools such as the Indy Charter schools just bought 400 of them and Hamiliton Southeastern (Schools) is getting ready to buy some,” he said.

The books are a family effort. Vance didn’t know how to operate the software to do graphics for a book, and he’s not an expert in social media, so he asked his adult children it they would be interested in being on the team. His wife, Denise, handles copyrights, taxes, trademarks and more.

His efforts received a citation award in the nontraditional category from the American Institute of Architects Indiana.

Vance has additional books planned and is collaborating with Ball State’s College of Communication, Information and Media’s Emerging Media Design & Development graduate program.

“Now we have 22-year-old young people working on, how do we expand the Kid Architect brand and take it more digital?” Vance said. “It has been interesting to think about, how do we make it more conducive to young people versus a hard copy book?”

To learn more about the series, visit Books can be purchased on that site or Amazon. Questions can be sent to [email protected].