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Blueprint for a Green Schoolyard

  • The play's the thing... a wooden stage adds a new dimension to the schoolyard.

E.M. Stanton Elementary School is located in Southwest Center City. Stanton has become the focus of a neighborhood campaign to recognize and enhance a strong community school.

Like many of Philadelphia’s public schools, Stanton has a small, entirely paved schoolyard. Stanton School Advisory Council and South of South Neighborhood Association came to the Collaborative for a blueprint for Greening Stanton.

The Collaborative’s volunteer team worked closely with the community to re-envision the crumbling asphalt schoolyard at 17th and Montrose Streets. They knew they had to squeeze a lot of activity (and nature) into a small space. And they knew that, for now, they needed to reserve part of the schoolyard for off-street parking. The design process entailed two community task force meetings and four schemes—and yielded a final layout for the schoolyard that supports learning, exploration, and fun.

  • Evaluating options at a community task force for Stanton.








  • 13 06 stanton entry pergola 600x425


A spacious pergola marks the schoolyard entrance.In the conceptual design, the east side is home to a standard play structure and playground. But the west side blossoms with a pergola, stage, and garden areas that are designed to do more than just one thing.Students line up and enter Stanton from the schoolyard every morning.

A big pergola could celebrate this 17th Street entrance and serve as an outdoor classroom. Nearby, a raised wooden stage with a roof would provide another perch for outdoor learning and performances. It would be surrounded with a natural play garden and a network of pathways that manage stormwater and invite nature exploration. A science garden and a composter to the north would give students still more hands-on experiences with nature.

Along Montrose Street, a tree row would provide shade and capture rainwater from the playground. A below-grade rain storage “wick” would manage the remaining runoff from the revamped schoolyard.

Greening Stanton was designed to complement Carpenter Green, a small green space being developed by the community on the opposite corner of 17th and Montrose and a growing network of other green spaces and community assets in Southwest Center City.



  • Careful attention was given to managing stormwater runoff from the play areas.


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