Peacetown Kelley School
from Design 9 & 10 Architecture Studio with Prof. Max Zahniser | Solar Decathalon Finalist
What if our learning spaces were teaching tools that integrated learning with nature, cultural history, and paid for themselves by creating surpluses of clean energy and water, and healthy food? William D. Kelley is an existing pre-K through 8th grade school located in North Philadelphia that is being retrofitted in several phases in order to address the needs of the school’s community.
Constructed in 1966, many of the existing materials and systems are inefficient, outdated, and even toxic. This unhealthy environment is a contributing factor in students’ low academic performance, and the low test scores translate to decreased school funding.
This multi-phase plan addresses the environmental health of the building, enables it to be net positive, and makes design moves to create pedagogical instruments of the building systems. This includes culinary education, green space, break spaces, extend resources in laundry, internet and food, and outdoor community space.
What influenced the design for this project?
Our inspiration majorly stems from the community in which we are designing for. This goes from the entire area of Sharswood/Brewerytown to the members of the William D Kelley school. After holding several meetings with staff and students, it is clear how we've taken their needs into the design, while also recognizing the overall effect it will have over time. We want to be answering the question of can we create a space that will support this community allowing them to thrive and grow over time?
What do you like best about this studio?
My passion is design for social justice and this class recognizes that while also looking at the environment and furthermore paying attention to yourself. I see myself continuing to do this type of work and finding a place that is consistently evolving and teaching themselves and their team.
How would you describe your design process?
I have a very messy design process, but I believe that it clearly represents what is going on in my brain. I do have to sometimes re-represent this process when explaining to others, but for the most part it comes across or comes across differently and we gain new ideas, which is super interesting. My favorite part of the project is the very beginning, within discovery. Learning about a place's essence and then asking a million questions that lead to more questions is what sets the foundation for something to start to become imagined, while still having the openness of it changing.