[Pittsburgh] South Side Flats is an area under commercial development where pittsburgh’s historic factories once existed. The school sits on the waterfront where it has a strong visual connection to the hills and highways around it. Therefore it holds strong symbolic significance and must display itself to the city as well as become a public stage. This project begins to ask: How much does a school have to look like a school?
[Versatility] This Environmental Charter School responds to its condition by being adaptable through different scales. It is organized around a center with modules revolving around the multipurpose cafetorium. ECS’s motto is to grow citizens; this school achieves that by creating an inward looking community as well as an outward vision. The students are prompted to adapt their own surroundings with control of light, air, greenery, and program. The school fractalizes from central gym/cafeteria into classrooms into group study spaces into think labs and greenhouses. Equality becomes versatility.
[Intelligence] The enclosure is thickened and exploded in order to integrate layers of intelligence: Louvers for light, planters for interaction, operable windows for air, and a shelf for seating. The roof becomes about seasonal effects. Above the classrooms it provides indirect light and integrates solar panels. Above the gym it prefers winter sun while providing a spine of operable skylights that open to ventilate the gym. It creates channels that shed water to the planterboxes as well as the greenroof. Structure is exposed as an homage to the industrial history of the site. It also acts as a learning tool to students to understand the world around them. All in all the enclosure transforms what would be a normal warehouse into an intelligent lightbox.