Welcome Danielle Parnes and Alexa Bosse

by Linda Dottor — October 28th, 2014   |   At the Collaborative

On their minds: How can we design better public and play spaces?

On their minds: New tactics for greening communities and a more playful city.

The Collaborative is pleased to introduce our two newest staff members, Danielle Parnes and Alexa Bosse. Here’s your chance to meet them (if you already haven’t) and hear what they have in mind for greening communities and creating better play spaces in Philadelphia. Read Full Story

DESIGN CHARRETTE | Reactivating Vacant Schools

by Linda Dottor — October 7th, 2014   |   Charrette, Schools

As the School District of Philadelphia closes schools throughout the city, communities are confronting a painful reality. How can longstanding neighborhood icons be reactivated—both temporarily and for the long haul? What’s next for these vacant public school buildings and sites? Join us to explore the possibilities on Friday, November 14.

school photo

The vacant M. Hall Stanton School was built in the ’50s.

Friday, November 14, 8:00AM – 6:00PM
Center for Architecture, 1216 Arch Street

Collaborate with designers, community members, public agencies, and community development specialists on reuse options for closed public schools. Register via Design on the Delaware.

Friday, November 14, 4:00PM – 6:00PM
Center for Architecture, 1216 Arch Street

Join us as participants of the design charrette present strategies and sketches for reactivating vacant schools. Be part of a new conversation about this important issue. Reception to follow. RSVP

Old Frances Willard School
is located in the River Wards section of the city in the Kensington neighborhood. Built in 1907, the school is on the National Register of Historic Places. Two neighborhood commercial corridors (Kensington Avenue and Frankford Avenue) are within walking distance, as well as Temple Episcopal Hospital, McPherson Square Park, and the Allegheny Station of the Market-Frankford El.

M. Hall Stanton School is located in the Lower North Philadelphia section of the city in the Stanton neighborhood. Built in 1959, the school has excellent access to public transportation. The school is located two blocks from the intersection of North Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue which is a key hub for bus, subway and rail users.


Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development
Community Design Collaborative
AIA Philadelphia 

Community Ventures
Impact Services Corporation
New Kensington CDC 

National Endowment for the Arts
The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia 

KieranTimberlake Associates, LLP


Our 2014 Community Design Award Finalists

by Linda Dottor — October 2nd, 2014   |   At the Collaborative, Design Grants

Every year, the Collaborative recognizes a pro bono project with its Community Design Award. The award recognizes excellence in design, collaboration, and community impact. This year’s finalists illustrate the diversity of the community design needs that the Collaborative and our volunteers respond to through the Design Grants program.

All three projects will be on display at AIA Philadelphia’s Design Excellence exhibition at Liberty Place from October 6 through 19. Talk community design with us and some of the volunteers who worked on these projects at AIA’s Meet the Architect event at Liberty Place, Friday, October 20  from 11AM to 3:00PM.

The winner of the 2014 Community Design Award will be announced at the AIA Philadelphia Awards for Design Excellence Celebration on October 20.


Friends of the Rail Park
Continuous and Connective: Conceptual Design for the City Branch
The City Branch is a vacant rail corridor that parallels Callowhill Street. Collaborative volunteers worked with Friends of the Rail Park to present a vision for a linear park between North Broad Street and 18th Street. The park will reconnect the area to Center City, create outdoor gathering spaces for Community College of Philadelphia and North Broad Street, and preserve Philadelphia’s industrial legacy.

OLIN Richard Roark | Jessica Henson | Agnes Ladjevardi | Benjamin Monette CVM Rob Schaeffer | Julie Wiley VJ Associates  Chongba Sherpa Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Frank Grauman | Erin Roark | Megan Strenski


G:DevinCDCStarfinder_Exterior_Options1_devin - Sheet - A1-1 -

Starfinder Foundation
Conceptual Design for Sustainable Improvements
Starfinder Foundation’s soccer, educational, and personal development programs inspire young people from under-served communities to achieve success both on and off the field. The Collaborative helped Starfinder zero in on important immediate repairs and plan a series of improvements to make its Manayunk facility more visible, environmentally sustainable, and comfortable for youth, families and staff.

Mathew Huffman | Devin Bradbury | Elizabeth Emig | Alysse Einbender Bruce E. Brooks & Associates Joseph Matje | Richard Hwang Larsen and Landis Eric Larsen JFS Engineering, PC Joseph Schaffer Erikson & Sons Patrick Snoke


12-16_viola_improv plan

Viola Street Residents Association
Project Reclaim
The street and sidewalks of the 4200 block of Viola Street in East Parkside are clean, a community garden thrives, and homes are well-kept. But there are clusters of vacant homes and lots on Viola Street and nearby. Viola Street Residents Association asked the Collaborative to turn their vision for Viola Street and adjacent blocks into a plan for neighborhood reinvestment.

KSK Architects Planners Historians  Paul Vernon
International Consultants, Inc. | Lucious Johnson
Kate Rutledge | Dan Chong | Brian Johnson | Joy Mariama Smith | Leah Rominger | Andrew Dobshinsky | Christine Miller Cruiess


Wellness, Environmental Awareness, and Wayfinding: New Design Grants

by Linda Dottor — October 1st, 2014   |   Design Grants

Wellness, environmental awareness, and wayfinding are just some of the watchwords for our latest batch of Design Grants.

The Attic Youth Center will receive a programming and site feasibility study to support their expansion and relocation. The Attic creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community and promotes the acceptance of LGBTQ youth in society.


Take a look Overbrook! JASTECH aims to convert this building into a community wellness center.

Collaborative volunteers will also work with Read Full Story

Bowling Ball ~ Last Call! ~ “Bang for the bowling buck”

by chrism — September 23rd, 2014   |   Events, Giving

Just a few lanes are left for the 18th annual Bowling Ball this Saturday, September 27.

You can still join the wonderful sponsors and community bowlers participating in—and get in on fabulous prizes from our generous raffle donors to—the Community Design Collaborative’s fun(d)raiser at Erie Lanes, 1310 E. Erie Avenue, Philadelphia. We have a few lanes left!

If you’ve already signed up, thank you. We hope you’ve planned your team’s costumes or t-shirts and that your arm is ready to compete for our fabulous trophies and prizes. Be sure to bring some cash to get tickets to win a prize from our
 bounteous raffle table. Doors open to mix at 6 pm and then bowling is from 7 to 10 pm.

Remember, your contribution to the Bowling Ball supports the Collaborative’s work to strengthen neighborhoods through design. Your help goes to create meaningful volunteer opportunities for design professionals, provide preliminary design services to community nonprofits, and demonstrate the important of design in community revitalization. Good bang for your bowling buck.

Finally, thanks to Mark Aller for the illustrations.

Connect on Twitter: @cdesignc_tweets Hashtag: #BB2014

 Thanks to our sponsors!

300 GAME

Ballinger Architecture and Engineering logo


Brandywine Realty Trust logo Voith and Mactavish Architects logo


AIA Philadelphia
Alice K. Berman & Associates
Allied Construction
Atkin Olshin Schade Architects
Ballard Spahr LLP
BartonPartners Architects Planners
Blackney Hayes Architects
BLT Architects
Bruce E. Brooks & Associates
BWA architecture + planning
CB Design Consultants | Designblendz
DIGSAU Architecture/Urbanism
Econsult Solutions
The Facade Group
Flatiron Building Company
Keast & Hood

KSK Architects Planners Historians
Larsen & Landis
Materials Conservation Co.
McGillin Architecture
Beth Miller
O’Donnell & Naccarato
Pennoni Associates
Revelation Community Outreach Center
RP Management
SFS Office Design
Tozour Energy Systems
University of Pennsylvania Facilities and Real Estate Services
Viridian Landscape Studio
Zimmerman Studio

10,000 Small Businesses of CCP
Cozen O’Connor
Land Services USA
Thornton Tomasetti
Torcon, Inc.

Thanks to Our Raffle Prize Donors
AIA Bookstore and Design Center
Brian Cohen
Columbus Square Park Advisory Council
Cynwyd Station Cafe and Tea Room
Design Philadelphia
Tavis Dockwiller
Eastern State Penitentiary
Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial
Hush Salon
InterAct Theatre Company
International Interior Design Association (IIDA)
Longwood Gardens
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
Metropolitan Bakery
Old City Coffee
Philly Fair Trade Roasters
Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia
Primex Garden Center
Reading Terminal Market Corp.
Schuylkill River Development Corporation
The Wharton Esherick Museum
University of the Arts

Bowling Ball 2014 emblem

Thinking Pink! Volunteers Alexa Bosse and Ari Miller

by Linda Dottor — September 2nd, 2014   |   Volunteers

alexa and ari with rendering

Meet our volunteer super couple! This spring, architect Alexa Bosse and her husband, landscape architect Ari Miller, led the Collaborative volunteer team in generating a plan for a pop-up park in Frankford. The result is a vibrant design that uses sound activated lights and a whirlwind of “loud screaming pink” to turn a forgotten space into an entirely unique experience.

Their design will be installed in Frankford for the spring of 2015, through the Destination Frankford initiative. The Frankford CDC is hopeful that this temporary park will lead to the construction of a permanent park in the future. As Ari explained, “When you get it out there and people fall in love with it… Then that’s it. You don’t have to do anything else.”
Listening as an active activity
As they see their plans beginning to come to life, Alexa and Ari sat down with us to explain their design process and experience with the Collaborative. The volunteer role within a Collaborative project begins with visiting the site and leading a community meeting. Ari described how in these early meetings, “the client came with their preconceived notions about the space, and we came with our preconceived notions about the client—which were completely blown away.”

These meetings require effective communication, and Ari said, “Listening is not a passive activity, it’s an active activity. That’s something that’s really hard to master, and it’s something that the Collaborative has allowed us to hone and practice listening to clients and communities. That’s the lesson we’ve learned, what we’ve gotten better at over time.” Alexa added, “You’re not just volunteering; you’re learning stuff as well.”

Through this listening process, Alexa and Ari discovered that the Frankford community was willing to take risks, and wanted to do something bold with their space. This was exciting to the design team because, as Ari puts it, “very rarely do you get a client that really wants to do something wild. This gave us a great deal of license. A lot of the credit for the design goes to the Frankford CDC as much as it does the design team, because of their ambition to have something that was unusual and bold and unique.”
Jumping up and down!
With their client in mind, the Collaborative team explored options for creating a vibrant neighborhood attraction. When they presented their initial ideas in a later meeting, the bold pink design was an unmistakable success.

How did they know? “Because they were jumping up and down!” Read Full Story

A life affirming space, a pop-up park, and storefront spruce ups

by Linda Dottor — September 2nd, 2014   |   Design Grants

In July and August, we wrapped up projects that will lead to a life affirming space for returning veterans and their families, build a pop-up park, and spruce up storefront facades.

One option for Catharine's House is to build an entirely new facility.

One option for Catharine’s House is to build an entirely new facility.

Catharine’s House
The Black Lemonade Project’s motto is “Empowering parents to squeeze success out of life’s circumstances.” A local initiative of the National Center for Family Recovery (NCFFR), Black Lemonade is helping parents build upon their individual and collective strengths and discover ways to think differently about themselves, their children, and their future.

The Black Lemonade Project currently has no permanent home for the active, family-based community it is building in Philadelphia. But now, NCFFR’s secretary is poised to donate her childhood home to the nonprofit.

Named after her mother, Catherine, this North Philadelphia property will provide Read Full Story