Press Room

Penn Praxis Selects Teams to Take on Social Impact Projects

PHILADELPHIA—Five student-faculty teams from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design will implement projects designed to produce positive social impact for Philadelphia communities over the summer.

Initiated in December 2014 by PennDesign Dean’s Office together with PennPraxis—the outreach, practice and professional arm of the School—the Social Impact Projects are intended to extend critical discourse and foster more cross-disciplinary collaboration at the School as well as leverage design to benefit surrounding communities.

“We asked students to work across disciplines and with faculty to generate ideas for how design in all of its iterations can and should be serving communities,” Randall Mason, Executive Director of PennPraxis, described. [These projects] will be great sources of visibility, of practical experience for students, channeling what they think is important, taking advantage of faculty know-how, and advancing the whole teaching and research enterprise.”

The five projects awarded funds for implementation include:

  • Restoring Buildings, Rebuilding Communities, to bring together community members to demystify repairs for old homes and empower homeowners to reframe their understanding of their older rowhouses.
  • The Designing Healthy Eating Experiences project, to work with students at Huey Elementary School and AUNI to design and brand plates that encourage students to eat healthy foods and to develop new products that will help students choose healthier foods.
  • In partnership with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, the Pop Ups for a Purpose project creates a pop-up installation at the underpass of Frankford and Lehigh to maximize its capacity to promote New Kensington’s social and physical environment.
  • Calling on local artists and community members, the WASTE NOT/Redux project aims to develop sculptural installations using discarded construction materials, which will be repurposed back into the communities in which they were once housed. These installations intend to develop a public dialogue between designers, community members, and industry about waste and development in their respective neighborhoods.
  • The Proactive Practice project researches, documents, and profiles an emerging trend of social impact firms that focus on long-term sustainability and business innovation to enhance a social mission. This research will be used to educate designers and design students on how these innovations will shape design practice in the future.

Projects commence this summer for implementation with an exhibition of the work conducted to be on view at the School of Design in Fall 2015.