On December 10th, the AIANY Architecture for Education Committee sponsored an event moderated by Mark Thaler, Educational Practice Leader of Gensler. The evening showcased two school projects in the NYC area that represent successful symbioses with their communities, “Community Schools: Process, Program, and Promise.”
ESKW/A was proud to take part in the presentation: our own Kimberly Murphy, along with Dattner Architects‘ Jeffrey Dugan and New Settlement Apartments‘ Jack Doyle, discussed the collaborative creative process and subsequent success of the New Settlement Community Campus.
Vincent Lee, Associate Partner of Rogers Partners, presented The Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School, for which he collaborated closely with Annette C. Anderson, Assistant Dean for Community Schools at Johns Hopkins University. Their inspiring project, a school in Baltimore that faced the unique design challenge of building within a historic area that was rapidly being rebuilt, made for an interesting comparison with NSCC. Rogers Partners and the community’s successful solutions for the unusual school program and challenging site provided us with much food for thought.
The event delivered a rich discussion on a topic we value highly; the importance of architect + community collaboration.
Jeffrey Dugan and Kimberly Murphy answered questions about the unusual creative process, in which the teams swapped schemes midway through the design scheme phase:
“We think the building came out unlike one that we would have designed alone, so in some sense when you think about community, collaboration really is part of a community action.”
“I can be honest with you, as an architect I was nervous to do that — give it away, and let someone else break it? That was really difficult. But it made us realize that (the design) was a group process, and it definitely came out better in the end than it would have been if just one person had worked on it. I think it was a real growth moment.”
Though located in areas of their respective cities that can be subject to vandalism, both projects have remained unmarred. Vincent and Jack attributed that fact to an appreciation for the buildings and their role in the community.
“I think if you were to go around the neighborhood by the school you’d see a lot of graffiti, but in the 2.5 years the building has been built, there has been no graffiti. We also have a lot of glass, and one thing that’s not uncommon nowadays in NYC is to use etching acid to graffiti glass … and there have been no incidents of that. I think that people in the community recognize that this building acknowledges and respects their children for what they are and what they should have. It’s a gift, it’s what every child should have.”