Birds eye view of urban sprawl

Located in a poor, low-lying neighborhood in the City of Patna which is prone to debilitating floods, a heavily polluted nala (a low ground made into a drain), exemplifies a deep-seated problem with the infrastructure of cities in India. Driven to drain land of the heavy rain that comes with the monsoon each year, this infrastructure has made cities vulnerable to flood through drains that are choked with debris, polluted with sewage and toxic effluent, and encroached upon by unauthorized settlements.

B&W photo of Maxfield fire house

The Boonton Preservation Project will develop a preservation plan for the Maxfield Engine House--a firehouse constructed in 1893. The firehouse occupies a prominent location in the center of Boonton, NJ’s Main Street Historic District and has served a variety of functions since the town’s fire engines became too large to use it.

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Systems used to continuously monitor children’s heart rate, breathing rate, and oxygen levels in hospital and home settings and generated alarms intended to warn caregivers— nurses in the hospital and parents at home— of conditions that warrant their immediate attention. However, these systems suffered from high rates of false alarms, which caused unnecessary sleep disruption, task interruptions, and alarm fatigue that “teaches” caregivers to ignore or respond slowly to future alarms.

B&W photo of group of women having meeting around several tables

Image: Camp for unemployed women in Atlanta, Georgia, ca. July 1934; via: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

This project establishes the first comprehensive inventory of sites associated with unemployed women during the New Deal (specifically, 1933 to 1937), sometimes referred to as “She-She-She Camps.” A counterpart to the male-centric Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), these residential camps were created by the Women’s Division of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and its subsidiary state divisions to offer relief benefits to the many women on the relief rolls. They were championed by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and FERA’s Specialis

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The Blue City Lab will be the first off-grid, community-based, floating climate lab in the US. The project is planned to be built in the Upper Bay of New York City in the Red Hook neighborhood. BlueCity will combine a climate laboratory, classroom and training facilities, a public gathering space and floating gardens. It is a model for climate-responsive architectural innovation combined with low-energy building systems and renewable energy harvesting. This project will tackle the threat of rising sea-levels by creating a resilient floating community.

 Row of abandoned storefront. One has sign that says "Smokin Aces Dance Hall" and another that says "For Rent"

The Detroit Tactical Preservation Program is a partnership between PennPraxis and the City of Detroit's Planning and Development Department that focuses on the partial and incremental reuse of specific spaces within a larger building. This effort also looks to efficiently move sections of buildings into new uses. Quick and swift reuse of buildings will catalyze further development and benefits for the community.

 Map of fort drive cultural landscape. Key landmarks are the Blair road and Mamie D Lee cultural garden

The National Park Service DC Small Parks Project aims to evaluate and manage change for the hundreds of parklets, roundabout circles, and other small parks created by or extended from the original L’Enfant Plan for Washington, DC by conducting detailed analyses of three prototype sites: Marion Park, Titanic Memorial Park, and a section of Fort Drive. 

Rows of models of tetrahedron like structures

This project focuses on generating parametric models based on the fundamentals of 3D graphic statics. Using rhino, grasshopper, and python as the main tools, Professor Masoud Akbarzadeh and a team of Design Fellows will build these models from basic concepts of 2D form and force polygon representation of equilibrium that are migrated towards 3D spatial determinant and indeterminate truss designs.

Map of America showing female incarceration rates. Highest rate states are Wyoming, South Dakota, Kentucky, Oklahoma

PennPraxis Design Fellows are researching the financial injustices and barriers facing low-income communities in the United States. Working with the Filene Research Institute’s Center of Excellence for Consumer Financial Lives in Transition, the Pay-Day Loan project will further explore financial instability faced by individuals experiencing both ‘life-cycle’ transitions (e.g. graduating college, retirement) and external events (e.g. unexpected medical costs, job loss).

Complex algorithm for an animation

PennPraxis Design Fellows are working with Fine Arts faculty member Joshua Mosley in research that will cumulate with the launch of Data Driven Animation course to be offered in the next academic year. Students in this proposed course will collaborate in small teams with faculty research partners across the University to produce animations that simulate or visualize systems and present time-series data using algorithmic animation methods.

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Stages of Learning is a one-month pilot program taking place in Philadelphia in spring 2021. Artists, designers, and activists that engage modes of collaboration in their work, assemble to lead generative conversation through workshops, performances, lectures, facilitated reflections, and collective research. These activities will be led by experienced practitioners and will take place in weekly sessions over the month across varying community and learning centers in Philadelphia.

 Covid-19 virion over a cartoon of a house

For many low-income renters, and for many non-white communities, COVID-19 is exacerbating several issues related to economic vulnerability, displacement, and housing instability. The goal of the COVID-19 Housing Response Collaborative is to leverage the expertise at the University of Pennsylvania to provide deep technical assistance to cities to advance effective local policies amidst the pandemic and thereafter.