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Schoolyard to Modern Community Plaza

Schoolyard to Modern Community Plaza

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Published by openroadpark
A modern community plaza will be built in the schoolyard of PS 20 and the Academy of Arts + Letters, Fort Greene. The new plaza will include plants, trees, seating, stair sets, rails and children's art.
A modern community plaza will be built in the schoolyard of PS 20 and the Academy of Arts + Letters, Fort Greene. The new plaza will include plants, trees, seating, stair sets, rails and children's art.

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categoriesTopics, Art & Design
Published by: openroadpark on Nov 29, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Schoolyard to Modern Community Plaza
 An Innovative Schoolyard Redesign
and a joint project of The Urban Assembly Academy of Arts & Letters,The Clinton Hill School/PS 20, and Open Road 
Brooklyn Borough President Marty MarkowitzOffice of the Brooklyn Borough PresidentBrooklyn Borough Hall209 Joralemon StreetBrooklyn, NY 11201Dear Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz,
 Above: school mural, and a preview of the talents that could be put towards ground murals in the schoolyard 
It is with great pleasure that we submit our CapitalFunding Request for the innovative renovation of ourshared schoolyard. Thank you for being so open tolearning more about our schools, their growth, andtheir needs. We are two public schools who believe in“doing things differently,” a community of educatorsdedicated to innovative education, really knowing ourstudents, integrating technology and the arts, andcommunity building. Additionally, we are a community of learnersrepresenting the diversity of Brooklyn - serving four districts and 21zip codes, with students at all learning levels, creating a student population that is racially, economically, geographically,and academically diverse.We serve a unique underserved demographic: the low-income, high achieving students of New York City - students“beating the odds,” despite difficult socio-economic challenges. We are also the most under-funded category of schools- not poor enough to get Title 1 funding every year, and not wealthy enough to have families able to financially invest inschool trips, programs, and after-school opportunities.
The proposed concrete resurfacing and plaza design for our schoolyard will truly transform our schools, what we areable to provide our students, and will additionally enrich Fort Greene at large. We are thrilled to be partnering withOpen Road, a non-profit with innovative expertise in such design endeavors.
Thank you for your time and consideration, especially in the current economic environment. Our proposal follows. Feelfree to contact us with any questions.Respectfully,Allison Gaines Pell Lena BarberaPrincipal, The Urban Assembly Academy of Arts & Letters Interim Acting Principal, The Clinton Hill School/PS 20
Below: schoolyard in current state
Arts & Letters and The Clinton HillSchool share a school building on 225Adelphi Street in Fort Greene,Brooklyn. The neighborhood isresidential, with brownstones, oldchurches, and trees lining the streets.While our schools are located in FortGreene, we serve students from allover Brooklyn. Our two schools, oftena home away from home for ourstudents, provide a safe, yet excitingspace to learn, play, and grow. Wecount ourselves lucky to have ourhome in such a beautiful, ethnicallydiverse, and culturally aliveneighborhood, and we seek to redesign our shared schoolyard to most creatively take advantage of the space that wehave, to better serve our students and better reflect the beauty of our surroundings.
This redesign will:
serve our students’ physical and socio-emotional needs better, by providing agreatly enhanced space for physical exerciseand mid-day play and relaxation.Approximately 660 students use this spaceevery day.
complement and draw attention to thesurrounding splendor of Fort Greene andcultivate, in our students, an appreciationfor outdoor living and exposure.
aid both schools in the critical task of increasing parent involvement, by providinga top notch space that students and families feel welcomed byand
 Above: our students drafting design plans withPaulaHewitt Amram of Open Raod 
better accommodate our school and community events, like our annual
, bringing together ourfamilies and local restaurants, non-profits, and arts organizations.
propel our two schools’ joint mission to become a cultural focus point of Fort Greene, by having an innovativespace for new and larger collaborations between our schools and the vibrant community around us.
 Currently, our students spend most of their outdoor recess and physical education time in a drab, bare, and ineffectiveschoolyard. (See photograph on previous page.) This highly used but deteriorating schoolyard serves approximately 660children every day. When parents come to pick up their students, the schoolyard is full – yet there is nowhere to sit, andno shade within the schoolyard area. Seating, trees, and simple areas to play would make this a beautiful school andcommunity space.
We aim to make this a focus of active play for youth, which would vibrantly interact with the activeplay all around us, in the next-door public park, the surrounding streets and sidewalks, and in the MS 113 schoolyardon the next block.We, along with our partner, Open Road, envision a redesigned, architecturally innovative, and colorful schoolyard in a“plaza design,” a space that is exciting for students during the school day and also open to the community at times forevents in the arts, music, skateboarding, and youth culture.
These collaborations, some of which are alreadyhappening on a smaller scale, would bring in sponsorship opportunities for arts and physical education programs withinArts & Letters and The Clinton Hill School. Fort Greene has a wealth of cultural and educational organizations, and thereis also a significant and thriving local skate and biking culture amongst the youth on our block and those surrounding it.This scene is supported by small, local board companies like Culture and SDC, who have teams and very well attendedevents. Over the past two years, these companies have also brought their teams to volunteer with Open Road at city-wide events.Through our ongoing partnerships with Long Island University, Pratt Institute, among other organizations, and throughour design work with Open Road, we have found that communities get much more involved with the life of a schoolwhen there are collaborative public events in which they can authentically participate.
Investment in the redesign of our shared schoolyard would be protected by local stewards.
In addition to our twoschools, and non-profits with whom we share good relationships, there are very strong local groups and representativesthat protect educational, arts, tenants, and public housing rights (i.e. Pratt Area Community Council). We also know,from our annual
and other events, that local businesses will enthusiastically support events in the park.There is also effective public transportation in the area, by a multitude of subway stations and many buses. Theschoolyard is also just two blocks from Fort Greene Park. Open Road, Afro-Punk, and other local cultural institutions arevery committed to this neighborhood, and the annual Afro-Punk festival, of which Open Road is a core partner, attractsover 35,000 people over three days. The Brooklyn Flea also brings a wealth of locals and visitors, as do ongoing eventsin Fort Greene Park.Open Road has led three design sessions with our two schools, bringing together all affected parties – both schools’administration teams, custodial leads, involved teachers, parents, and students. These sessions generated designideas and sketches, and our students have particularly impressed us with their enthusiasm and truly creative ideas.Ideas generated include ground murals, a plaza center, and skateable and bikeable sculptures, which also inventivelydouble as sturdy seating. As a community of educators and learners, and as two highly regarded Fort Greene publicschools, we are empowered by this opportunity and excited at the possibility that we might bring such animprovement to our students and our community at large.

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