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Reporting back on school reuse

Architect Ian Smith consults with a CHAD student on WillYard, a flexible community gathering space proposed for Old Willard School.
Look for the school composition book tucked inside the August 2015 issue of Grid. You’ll find colorful quotes, images, and infographics about our school reuse design initiative.

In 2011, there were 257 active public schools in Philadelphia. By 2014, 30 of them were closed. What do these big empty buildings mean for Philly’s tight-knit communities? What will happen to them in neighborhoods where the real estate market is hot… or not?

Last year, we partnered with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development to tackle the issue of school reuse through a design initiative supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia.

A new Grid report commissioned by the Collaborative chronicles our journey:

  • A design workshop that gave the community a voice in charting the redevelopment of the former University City High School site,
  • Four basement-to-rooftop assessments of buildings and sites of closed public schools to help developers understand their development potential, and
  • A design charrette focusing on two yet-unsold schools that revealed the power of temporary reuses to get them into active use and redefine their places in the community. 
Check it out online or download the PDF below.
A new entrance proposed for M. Hall Stanton School opens up new possibilities for mixed-use development.


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