PennDesign students speak with community members at South Whitehall design and engagement event

Transformative design is at the heart of the PennDesign mission, and throughout the year the School provides opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty, civic leaders and residents in Philadelphia and beyond.

A fall studio for second-year Landscape Architecture students focused on helping to shape the future of the Highlands region. Now, one town in New York is using the students' work to help secure funding for waterfront revitalization. 

Dolly Ottey Park, concept rendered perspective

Dolly Ottey Park is a new conceptual park located within the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia at the crossroads of the historic Elfreth’s Alley and North 2nd Street. PennPraxis’ Research Associate, Molly Lester, recently served as architectural historian on the pro bono team of design professionals that created a vision for the future pocket park, which was targeted for renewal due in part to the construction of the National building immediately adjacent to the site.

How did we learn what we know now?

On December 6, PennPraxis hosted a History Happy Hour at the Pennovation Center with a bleacher-full of researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

Neighbors paint Little Free Library decorations

Sometimes things do not turn out as you planned. Sometimes they turn out even better.

Photo: Betsey Suchanic for the Knight Foundation

The redevelopment of American cities over the last few decades has been a boon to urban real estate developers and others, but has often failed to improve material conditions in the most deprived areas. The authors of a recent report from PennPraxis and experts from across the country explore the promise and pitfalls of civic infrastructure.

Community conversations at the Citizens Planning Institute, a partner in this project

PennPraxis is excited to kick off its latest project, the Historic Preservation Citizen Engagement Toolkit.

Last summer, PennPraxis funded a project designed to bring design thinking and visual arts practices to youth development professionals. The goal of this project is to explore and measure how design leadership tools and practices and the integration of visual arts practices can inform youth development professionals’ work, inspiring them to find new and innovative solutions and approaches to their work while also integrating a studio style practice in an office setting.

Source: Urban Land Institute; Overlay: DLWLCC

How can Grays Ferry Avenue, a wide arterial street weaving through the Southwest Philly neighborhoods that surround Pennovation Works, be remade into a healthy corridor? It's the topic of a new study conducted by the Urban Land Institute in Philadelphia, in partnership with a host of local government agencies, health organizations, and community groups, and led by Julie Donofrio of PennPraxis, chair of the local leadership group tasked with organizing the sixth-month process. 

Mount Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church, at 432 North 41st Street

A legacy of William Penn’s “Holy Experiment,” which fostered religious freedom in the colony of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia’s historic sacred places have been centers of city life for centuries. They comprise a priceless and irreplaceable architectural and social legacy, particularly for immigrants and African-Americans. But these places also face serious challenges, including migration and displacement, secularization and aging congregations, and privatization of urban space, according to Philadelphia’s Historic Sacred Places, a new report published by The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative (PRI) based on an 18-month research project by PennPraxis, with contributions from Partners for Sacred Places. 

Wassaic Project Artists

A distinct result of the 2016 Presidential election was the realization of the pronounced differences  between rural and urban communities in the United States.