September / October 2015: Neighborhood
This month we’d like to share a recent Springboard Design collaboration: The West End Vacant School Study, a 120 page adaptive reuse and market analysis report commissioned by the West End Alliance and supported by the Design Center of Pittsburgh.
The West End Vacant School Study
Springboard Design led a team that studied the current conditions of four vacant schools within Pittsburgh’s District 2, and presented site-specific opportunities to redevelop these sites into important community assets. As we learned through public forums with the local community, there is common interest in reusing these vacant buildings to spark neighborhood revitalization efforts in a way that positively impacts the nearby residents and the vitality of the district as a whole. Our partners in this project were Integra Realty Resources and Jeffrey King Architecture.
Concerns about several prominent but empty properties led The West End Alliance to seek the help of the Design Center of Pittsburgh to commission an adaptive reuse and market analysis study in early 2014. Springboard Design assembled a team to produce this study in the summer of 2014, and a Steering Committee of representative community members was appointed. Interested parties provided feedback, attended various planning and brainstorming sessions, and public forums. Together we evaluated alternatives for the community’s consideration.
Each of the schools was once a vibrant part of their respective neighborhoods, but had to be abandoned for various reasons. Three of the Pittsburgh Public Schools [Schaeffer Primary in Crafton Heights; Schaeffer Intermediate (known locally as the Sheraden School) in Sheraden; and Thaddeus Stevens in Elliott] were closed in 2012/2013 in order to consolidate students into larger facilities. A number of years earlier, two school buildings and the convent on the Holy Innocents Catholic Church property in Sheraden had also been vacated. The specific goal of Springboard Design’s Study is focused on the conditions, marketability, and best potential uses for these school buildings. In addition, we hope our research will build a conceptual foundation for how District 2 can position itself for a thriving future.
The West End Vacant School Study is comprised of extensive site research and building analyses. A series of maps show local contextual conditions in the immediate surroundings of each school. Site plans, floor plans, elevations, building and engineering reports of the properties provide a comprehensive set of information about the existing conditions within each property.
Armed with an extensive market analysis of the properties and neighborhoods, the Study purposes new uses for three of the four properties. These “test fits” include proposed building plans and renderings of some of their potential uses.
Funding for the project was provided by District 2 Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, the Office of Mayor Peduto and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh and was administered through the Design Center of Pittsburgh’s Design Fund Program.
Digital Copies of the the West End Vacant School Study are available upon request.
Please email Paul Rosenblatt if you are interested.
Edited by Cassandra Osterman and Paul Rosenblatt AIA