Classical Studies Magnet Academy

Bridgeport, Connecticut

Classical Studies Magnet Academy is a public magnet school for grades PK-8 located in Bridgeport whose schoolyard was planned to be  renovated in partnership with The Trust for Public Land (TPL), The City of Bridgeport, Aris Land Studio, and the West Side Neighborhood Revitalization Zone to design a school playground that would be open to the surrounding community after school hours and during the weekends.

 

Participatory, hands-on design sessions were developed to teach a class of 8 grade students a strong understanding of: green infrastructure; our impacts on the environment; and the fundamentals of community planning for park design.  The two resulting park concepts were voted on by the students, where the final design incorporated features from both designs and enabled TPL to begin fund raising to construct the new parkland.  Debra De Vries-Dalton served as Landscape Designer from Proposal to Final Concept Plan in teaching students, meeting with community partners and designing graphics, lead by  Aris Stalis, during her time at Aris Land Studio.

Aspects of the hands-on-learning sessions included:

  • Teaching students about the value of storm water reduction by discussing environmental topics of the value of wildlife, its habitat, clean water and green infrastructure during each design session and showing students  how to incorporate green infrastructure components in the schoolyard design.

  • Encouraging students to be creative, open minded and mindful of weighing limited design choices by discussing the merits of each element, understanding that not all of the elements could fit on the site, thinking about how the community would benefit. and subsequently voting on the options. 

  • Teach students to understand complex site planning concepts including:

    • Scale - 3-D elements of trees, playground equipment, green infrastructure and site furnishing were designed for groups of students to place on a scaled site plan​.

    • Sense of Place-Students selected design elements representative of their school and community.

    • Design Communication-Each student was encouraged to speak about their design and their preferences at the end of each design session to gain confidence in expressing their thoughts to others.

    • Site Analysis- Students used bubble diagrams to outline their desires for both active and passive spaces on the design. 

  • Urban School and Park Renovation

  • Participatory Student Design Sessions

  • Inclusion of Green Infrastructure Components

  • Community Engagement and Support 

  • Awarded 2015 Environmental Education Award of Merit by Connecticut Chapter of Green Building Council