(RE) Constructing Community by (RE) Imagining School as an Opportunity Center


Michael Maloney  Davenport Community Schools

Kalyssa Worden  Legat Architects

Robin Randall  AIA, LEED AP , Legat Architects

LU: 2

Learning Units

How applies to HSW:

Building Codes, Accessibility, and Building Reuse of materials and structure of existing school buildings.


This presentation/discussion and series of workshops will address declining school enrollment in urban school districts as an opportunity to bring community services to neighborhoods in need. Examples from Chicago Public Schools, IL, Portland Public Schools, OR, and Davenport Community School District, IA, will show success stories of adaptive reuse. Declining enrollment is a fact of life in many school districts and planning ahead with appropriate community involvement can ease the pain of building closures. Workshop #1 will brainstorm community engagement strategies that demonstrate good planning that is open minded to creative and unusual suggestions. The focus of the discussion post workshop will be on our primary precedent of adaptive use of JB Young School. A history of the school’s namesake, John B Young, who embodied the philosophy of seizing opportunities showing how determination and perseverance can lead to the longest tenure superintendent in IA and the US. The historic three-story brick school located in the hilltop neighborhood of Davenport, IA was built in 1918 closed in 2016 due to declining enrollment. In 2018 the building will reopen as the JB Young Opportunity Center housing 9 nonprofits service organizations including a prekindergarten center, museum, boys and girls club, food pantry, art legacy league, program of adjudicated adolescents, quad city youth sports foundation, boxing club, and a culinary educational kitchen. Addition program elements include the administration of the district, classrooms, and board room available for community use and a park with a walking path and interactive art. Workshop #2 will (RE) imagine a vacant CPS school near the Englewood Neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Attendees will participate in small group design sessions and report out findings in the large group. Take-a-ways include strategies for (RE) purposing buildings and preparing for the future of urban districts with declining enrollments and turning them into opportunities for the community.

Learning Objectives:
  • – REJUVENATE – Identify how enrollment, economics and demographics affect a school district
  • – RESTORE – Verify how confidence was restored in a community shaken by the closing of a school
  • – REVAMP – Compare ADA standards of the past and how upgrades can be achieved;
  • – RETHINK – Explore how a vacant school building structure and materials become an opportunity
Primary Competency:

Community Engagement: Leads the internal and external communities through a discovery process that articulates and communicates a community-based foundational vision, forming the basis of a plan for the design of the learning environment. The vision is achieved through a combination of rigorous research, group facilitation, strategic conversations, qualitative and quantitative surveys and workshops. Demonstrates the skill to resolve stakeholder issues while embedding a community’s unique vision into the vision for its schools.

Primary Domain:

Context: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the circumstances that form the setting for the design and construction of specific learning environments and characteristics that distinguishes the project from other applications.

Secondary Domain:

Parameters: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the aspects and guidelines of a project often regulated or administered by other entities, organizations, and/or governing agencies.

Additional information: The goal is to engage the audience in hands on learning around the topic of revitalization of communities through repurposing school buildings.  Specific examples using codes, accessibility, structure and materials for health life safety will be 75% of the program.