The Environmental Charter School
Uptown, Pittsburgh, PA - Spring 2017
The Environmental Charter School was developed as part of my coursework the Consolidation II Studio in Spring 2017. The studio is intended to provide experience creating detailed structural and systems designs.
The Environmental Charter School (ECS) is an elementary and middle school operating in Pittsburgh. The program was to create a new middle school campus for the ECS in Uptown, a run-down and neglected neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Members of the ECS staff were consulted as clients for the project.
The ECS brings together students from all areas of Pittsburgh, with a diversity of cultural and economic backgrounds and makes use of a curriculum that emphasizes collaboration, environmental learning, and community involvement. The classroom environment is unique from other schools, with two teachers of different disciplines teaching in concert. There is a strong sense of community between students and faculty.
My design for the ECS proposes a solution inspired by the school’s philosophy, keyed to maximising opportunities for collaboration and interaction, as well as learning from the environment.
The program is arranged around a central atrium, which acts as a focal point for the community and creates visual connections between all elements of the program. The periphery of the program is composed of outdoor spaces designed to maximise environmental learning and community involvement.
Learning spaces are designed to maximise daylighting, and expose the buildings systems in order to provide healthy learning environments that also showcase the building’s systems and energy saving mechanisms so they can be used as teaching tools.
Collaboration is maximised by creating common paths of circulation through the atrium that place members of the school community in adjacency to one another, and dedicated, flexible collaborative spaces attached to every classroom.
Interaction with the environment is encouraged by outdoor learning spaces connected to every classroom, a roof garden / cafeteria, and a roof garden that allows students to learn how to grow their own food. Environmental systems such as the photovoltaic array, and rainwater collection system are expressed here.
Interaction with the community is encouraged by a transparent lower floor that invites members of the community in and provides a flexible space that can be used for a multitude of school and community events.