Read a sample below:
In the introduction to Built to Last, David Macaulay tells us that the title has multiple meanings. Beyond the physical
permanence of structures such as castles, cathedrals, and mosques, their enduring importance also lies in their ability to
inspire and to “fuel our own creative capabilities.” He tells us, too, that they provide a link to another time and place—
a new way for you and your students to explore and think about history and their own place in it.
In this guide, you’ll find a variety of activities, discussion points, and projects to enrich the use of Built to Last in
your classroom. The topics highlighted go across the curriculum and beyond it. Built to Last will take you on an
educational journey.We hope you and your class enjoy the trip.
Visiting a Real Castle, Cathedral, and Mosque
Raglan Castle, Village of Raglan, SoutheastWales
David Macaulay has taken your students through a tour of the building of a thirteenth-centuryWelsh castle. Although
Lord Kevin’s castle is not real, many castles built during that time are still dotting theWelsh countryside. You can take
your students on a virtual tour of one of those castles. Go to the website www.castlewales.com/rag_tour.html and visit
Raglan Castle, one of the last medieval castles built inWales. Construction of the castle began in the first half of the
fifteenth century, and additional sections were added in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Before your students begin their tour, scroll down the page and find a link to a seventeenth-century drawing of what
Raglan Castle looked like in its heyday. Have your students discuss what it might have been like for a visitor seeing the
castle for the first time.
Although Raglan Castle was built about three hundred years after Lord Kevin’s castle was, your students should note
how the two castles look alike. As they navigate each section of the castle, have them keep a chart comparing the two
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, Chartres, France
Take your students on a photo gallery tour of the cathedral at Chartres, France, from the website
www.sacred-destinations.com/france/chartres-cathedral-photos/. Construction of the cathedral began in the twelfth
century and continued on and off over the next five hundred years. During that time fires destroyed some sections,
which then had to be rebuilt. Today, the Cathedral of our Lady of Chartres is almost perfectly preserved in its original
medieval design. As your students move from picture to picture, they should note the similarities and differences
between the Chartres cathedral and the cathedral in Built to Last.
Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Admiral Suha Mehmet Pasa would have looked at the Suleymaniye Mosque in awe when he decided to build his own
mosque. Completed in 1557, it was the grandest mosque in Istanbul, built by the great architect Sinan for the leader of
the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. The admiral would have had his architect design a mosque
based on the work of Sinan.
You and your students can take a tour of the great Suleymaniye Mosque. Go to the web site
www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200605/#. Click on Virtual tour of the Suleymaniye Mosque. Listen to the orientation
and then take and enjoy the tour. As your students listen to the narration, they can move the cursor across the picture and
see panoramic 360-degree views of the mosque. The shift key will zoom in, and the control key will zoom out.
In 1277, England’s King Edward expanded his strategy inWales by building a series of English settlements and castles
in strategic locations throughout the land. Both the castle and the settlement were tools of conquest, but each served a
Have your students discuss how the building of castles and towns were tools of King Edward’s plans of conquest. How
did towns establish an offensive position? Castles had a more defensive role. Using a chart, your students should detail
the defensive fortifications of the castle.
Defensive Structures in a Medieval Castle
The building of the cathedral spanned more than one hundred years. The workers were just ordinary people doing an
extraordinary task. For many of them, their work on the cathedral defined their own and their families’ lives. Yet most
never saw the completion of the cathedral. Your students should talk about how the workers might have felt about the
work.Were they just happy to have a job? Did they get satisfaction in their work? How might they have felt about not
seeing the completed cathedral?
What about present-day workers? Do they perform similar tasks? What construction professions exist now that were
unheard of during the building of the cathedral? Do your students think that workers then took more pride in their work
than workers do today?
The builders of mosques during the Ottoman Empire knew that with great wealth came social responsibility. Therefore
they incorporated an imaret within the mosque complex. The imaret was a public kitchen that gave out food free of
charge to travelers, students, workers, and the needy. It demonstrated Muslim religious teachings about charity.
A morning meal might include a rice soup with butter and chickpeas. Enjoy with your students a meal that could have
been served in Admiral Suha Mehmet Pasa’s imaret. Below is a simple recipe for rice soup with chickpeas, with a few
additional ingredients for flavor.
Rice Soup with Butter and Chickpeas:
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 cup uncooked rice
• 8 cups chicken stock
• 1 bay leaf
• 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained
• 3/4 cup chopped roasted mild green chile
• 1 tsp. ground cumin
• salt and pepper
In a heavy saucepan, warm the butter over low heat. When melted, add the onion and garlic. Cover the pan and cook for
5 minutes. Stir in the rice and saute it briefly until the rice blanches. Pour in the stock, add the remaining ingredients, and
simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until rice is soft. Serve hot and enjoy.
After reading Built to Last, your students should recognize the six simple machines used by the builders of Lord Kevin’s
castle, the town of Chutreaux’s cathedral, and Admiral Suha Mehmet Pasa’s mosque.
Questions to discuss:
• What are the six machines used by the workers?
(lever, inclined plane, wheel and axle, wedge, screw, and pulley)
• What is the purpose of using a simple machine in construction?
• Are these machines still used today?
Simple Machine Hunt:
From the classroom door to the pencil sharpener to the swing set in the play yard, your school is filled with simple
machines. Divide the class into teams and send them on a hunt to find as many of them as they can. Give one point for
each machine found and two points if it is correctly identified. For example, give one point for naming the classroom
door as a simple machine and an extra two points for identifying it as a lever. The team with the most points is the
Simple Machine Construction Tools Use
Wheel and axle
Wedge Saw Cut wood
Language Arts: Reading Comprehension
The castle, cathedral, and mosque were monumental buildings designed and constructed for very different purposes.
Ask your students to compare the motives behind the construction of each. Questions to discuss:
• Who commissioned each structure and for what purpose?
• Why was the location of the structure so important?
• How was each financed?
• What were the similarities in construction methods, tools, and building materials among the three buildings?
• How is the use of space different for the cathedral and the mosque?
• Lord Kevin’s castle and the cathedral at Chutreaux were constructed at relatively the same time, yet if you visited
each today, the castle would probably be in ruins and the cathedral still standing and in use. Why is that so?
• Of the three structures, which seems to be the most inviting?
• What lessons can be learned from the construction of these buildings?
• How do these construction methods compare to the way buildings are built now?
David Macaulay wonders whether the buildings were built to last or to impress. What do your students think? Have
them write essays to prove their points.
Each community has buildings of distinction; places of worship, museums, libraries, office buildings, arenas and
stadiums, etc. Have each student create a script for his or her own guided tour for one of these buildings. As part of
their scripts they should include the following topics:
• When was the building was built and what was its original purpose?
• How well does the building serve its function?
• Has the use of the building changed?
• Is there a particular style of architecture used in the building?
• Of what materials is the building made?
•Was the building built to last?
In their talks, they can use photographs and drawings. Enterprising students can even create power point presentations.
Language Arts: Vocabulary
The glossary at the end of Built to Last provides a review of words introduced in the text of the book. Many of the
words relate to only one of the buildings. Some apply to all. Play a game with the vocabulary your students have
acquired. Put each glossary word on an index card, hold up the card, and ask “Where would you find this?” Students
get one point for naming the proper building and another if they can define the word and note its function.
Constructing a castle, cathedral, or a mosque.
David Macaulay provides the floor plans for each building. Divide your students into construction teams and using
easily available materials have them build scale models of their own castles, cathedrals, and mosques. The different
parts of the structures should be labeled to identify them.
Following the assessment, the class should come up with recommendations for ways to improve the building.
After reading Built to Last, your students should see that buildings have both form and function. Contemporary
architecture and design hold that “form follows function.” This means that the shape of a building or object should be
primarily based on its intended function or purpose. While this is a modern concept, can it be related to the building of
the castle, cathedral, and the mosque? Open a discussion among your students about what the designers of these
structures may have had in mind when these buildings were built. For example: Why did the cathedral have a soaring
ceiling with no columns within the main area? Why was the mosque oriented in a particular direction? And why did the
castle have inner walls and outer walls?
Turn the discussion to your present-day school. Do your students feel that the architect designed a building that meets
the needs of the students, teachers, parents, and the community?
Your students should conduct an evaluation of the form and the function of your school building. Questions to answer
should include the following:
• Does the building’s structure contribute to maximize the learning experience?
• Is the school large enough to accommodate the school population?
• Are the cafeteria, gym, library, and bathrooms easily accessible from all classrooms?
• Does the building provide a safe, secure environment?
• Does the building meet the needs of the school’s special needs students?
• Are there provisions for community use?
• Is the building aesthetically pleasing?
A Sample Tour
The building that houses the Lenox Library in Lenox, Massachusetts, was built in 1815. It is a Greek Revival brick
building with long columns and an elegant cupola. The building served as the Berkshire County courthouse until 1868
the county seat was moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A new use of the building was found when a wealthy resident
purchased the building and donated it to the Lenox Library Association. In 1874 the library moved in and it has been
there ever since. Besides being the home of the library, the building has housed the town’s first doctor’s office, first
telephone switchboard, a jail and a bank. This is a building that was built to last.
This guide was prepared by Clifford Wohl, educational consultant.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children