Fresh Air Everywhere: Virtual Design Studio was an interactive virtual course offered to 150 Fresh Air Fund youth ages 14-17, launched in the Summer of 2020. The Fresh Air Fund is a not-for-profit agency that provides life-changing summer experiences for children from New York City’s underserved communities. The course, was offered to Fresh Air youth in lieu of the traditional summer camp experience made possible through a leadership gift from Lori Kanter Tritsch, MArch’85, and her partner, William P. Lauder, W’83, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and Penn Trustee. See here: https://www.design.upenn.edu/press/weitzman-kicks-summer-program-fresh-…
During the summer of 2020, eleven PennPraxis Design Fellows—recent graduates or advanced graduate students from the architecture, fine arts and landscape architecture departments at the School—helped shape and deliver the studio model class for teen participants with the support of Penn faculty. Through two hands-on projects, Fresh Air Everywhere introduced students to design thinking and approaches, developed fundamental skills, and engaged community conversations with design leaders and their peers.
Students designed a new nature center for Sharpe Reservation, The Fresh Air Fund’s 2000-acre property in Fishkill, NY—a project that The Fresh Air Fund may take on in the near future. The second project challenged students to design a “breathing room” in their own boroughs in New York City as their subject. A breathing room could be outdoor spaces for social activity and exercise; interventions to improve air quality; or installations that stimulate conversation about race and space.
Fresh Air Everywhere engaged the public imagination in New York by assembling a group of leading thinkers and policymakers to discuss the students’ ideas for projects in the city. An online gallery of the students’ work linked to themes and sites that public space experts find most resonant will be created, with the hopes of engaging the press and stimulating a wider public conversation.