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Green Day: Lea Takes First Step in Transforming Schoolyard

  • School and community volunteers pause for a group shot while installing the new planting bed at Lea.

Last May, the Collaborative, AIA Philadelphia, Philadelphia Water Department, and EPA hosted the Transforming Urban Schoolyards design charrette to rethink Philly's mostly-asphalt schoolyards.

Lea Elementary agreed to serve as a test case for building a better urban schoolyard. The charrette allowed Lea's administrators, teachers, parents, and students to collaborate with designers on strategies for enriching learning and play areas, creating space for neighborhood gatherings, and adding new landscape elements that soak up stormwater.

In November, Lea Elementary School took a first step towards greening Lea. Volunteers from the school and surrounding neighborhood pulled up asphalt and installed a planting bed along Spruce and 47th Streets. No small task, it took nearly three days and sixty volunteers to dig, till, and move soil and plant trees, shrubs, and bulbs.

The planting bed, an early-action project identified during the design charrette, marks the beginning of Lea's schoolyard transformation. The West Philadelphia Coalition of Neighborhood Schools and Lea Elementary School will present a conceptual plan for greening Lea to the school and community in January 2013.

We look forward to seeing Lea's progress!

  • View of the new planting bed along Spruce Street.



  • Perspective sketch of a greener Lea.



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