In 2013, architect Erik Heuler had his first children’s book published. The book, titled “A is for Architecture,” is an alphabet book with illustrations to accompany each letter, and an index that identifies each building and its architect. It was featured by the American Institute of Architects at their 2014 Emerging Professionals Exhibition. What inspired you to write a children’s book? At the time, I felt that I needed a creative outlet. I was inspired by Edward Gorey, who I’ve always loved for his adult-appropriate children’s books. It just ended up manifesting itself from there. What do you hope this book will accomplish? I am hoping that parents—architects or otherwise—will read it with their children and then look further into the buildings and places they find interesting. They will hopefully find out more about the place, the designers, the technologies used, and the function of the building. Ultimately, it will create educational awareness about architecture for both children and parents. Since you’re hoping to inspire a new generation of architects, can you tell us what inspired you to become one? I grew up on Long Island but spent a lot of time in the city, visiting family and spending time with friends. Meanwhile, a lot of family vacations were spent camping. Having experienced both the city and country, while also living in the suburbs, I was instilled with an appreciation for all. I realized that people play a big part in shaping the world, and I developed a love for architecture and wanted to participate.
This, accompanied by a desire to leave a positive lasting legacy, drove me to architecture. When did you first realize you might become an architect? It really wasn’t until adulthood that I considered an architecture profession as a reality. I was good at it and it was what I liked, but it took me literally creating a list to figure it out. Architecture seemed to offer the most potential to fulfill my personal and professional goals. I know you’re very active in H2M’s sustainability committee. Does the book tie into sustainability? If so, how? Not overtly, but there are a few green buildings highlighted. In the book, I have “E is for the Environment, which we must respect”. However, I think a greater awareness for our built and natural environment will ultimately lead to more sustainable decision-making. How important is it for children to start learning about architecture and green design at a young age? Very. Having a connection to place helps build who you are. Understanding the things that shape the physical space around you creates a connection, and the earlier this can be established, the greater the benefit will be to individuals and the communities they shape. Erik Heuler is a Project Designer for H2M’s municipal architecture studio.