Category Archive: Education
Pine-Richland’s First Annual Architectural Design Challenge
After many months of work, six teams of sixth-grade gifted students from Eden Hall Upper Elementary School presented their models on April 5 to a jury of architects and community representatives showing how they would adapt the vacant Parsons House Garage on Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus to house an orientation center that would connect the community with the Falk School of Sustainability that is being developed on the 388-acre site in Gibsonia, PA.
“This first annual architectural design challenge was the result of a new partnership with Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation,” said PHLF Executive Director Louise Sturgess. “Joanna Sovek and Jennifer Kopach, Eden Hall Upper Elementary Gifted Support teachers, connected with our organizations in 2015 so they could involve their students in meaningful assignments based in their community.” Kelly Henderson (LEED AP O+M), K-12 education coordinator at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus, highlighted this educational partnership (that also involves the Frick Art & Historical Center) during her presentation with Ms. Sovek, Ms. Kopach, and Principal Steven Smith at the Green Schools Conference, held in Pittsburgh from March 31 to April 1 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
In the gallery below see the Design Challenge on April 5, 2016.
“One of our main goals in design challenges such as these,” said Louise, “is to let young people know that they have a voice in their community and that they have valid ideas for making it better. In the process of developing their model, oral report, and written presentation, they strengthen academic, problem-solving, and teamwork skills; they become passionate about their ideas for reusing a historic structure; and they feel more connected to their Pine-Richland community. They take tremendous pride in what they accomplish, and we are always impressed and inspired by their ideas and energy.”
Each team demonstrated that they can collaborate and develop an excellent design concept for a vacant building. By saving and finding a new use for that building, they are able to rejuvenate a local landmark so a sense of continuity is maintained in Pine-Richland.
A special thanks to the following people for serving as judges: Lou Anne Caligiuri, Chatham University; Samantha Carter, Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture; Christopher Driscoll, Young Preservationists Association; Nancy Evans, Northwood Realty; Brian Newhouse, engineering consultant; Kelley Stroup, architectural historian; and Paul Tellers, AIA.
Arts and Crafts Conference in Pittsburgh
PHLF members and friends are invited to attend the 17th Annual Arts and Crafts Conference, which will be held in Pittsburgh from September 17 through September 20.
Register for all four days or for any one day of this national conference sponsored by the Initiatives in Art and Culture (IAC), titled “Multiple Modernities: From Richardson to Wright and Beyond––The Arts and Crafts Movement in Pittsburgh and Environs.” As part of the “Beyond” portion of the conference, participants will be able to tour the Frank Giovannitti House, designed by Richard Meier in 1979-83, on Sunday afternoon, September 20.
Click here for a full agenda and to register. Please use the Promo Code PHLF to receive a conference discount of $475. Regular registration is $550.
Please note: the discount applies to those who register for the whole conference, not for one-day registrations. However, for those who are interested in attending more than one day but less than all four, then call the IAC at 646-485-1952. The IAC might be able to work something out and offers the warmest of welcomes to anyone who wishes to attend.
Conference organizer Lisa Koenigsberg, PhD, has planned an incredible agenda of tours and lectures (including one by PHLF trustee Lu Donnelly and one by Historical Collections Director Al Tannler). “Pittsburgh is astonishing,” said Lisa. “There is so much to showcase and explore.”
Participants will be touring Wilpen Hall in Sewickley Heights (protected by a PHLF easement); the Duquesne Club in Downtown Pittsburgh; several private homes, including an Arts-and-Crafts foursquare in Squirrel Hill featuring a superb collection of furniture and art; and several historic religious properties in Downtown, Shadyside, and Sewickley.
“This is a terrific opportunity to tour a selection of significant sites in the Pittsburgh region,” said PHLF Executive Director Louise Sturgess, “and to immerse yourself in the Arts and Crafts tradition.”
Conference partners include PHLF, the Frick Art & Historical Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, Fallingwater, and Kentuck Knob, among others.
Creating Magic with Second-Grade Explorers
“I can’t thank you enough for the magic that you have helped to create in assisting our students learn the vital foundations of their own community,” wrote Jeffrey Zeiders, supervisor of Social Studies for the Mt. Lebanon School District. “The PHLF is simply the best,” he added.
Every year since 2001, PHLF staff and docents and volunteers from the Mount Lebanon Historical Society, have been leading second-grade students in the Mt. Lebanon School District on a walking tour of Washington Road. Students search for architectural details that match photos on their worksheets and tour the historical society, municipal building, and public safety building. They paste photos of the 105 details they find on Washington Road buildings on a huge map with a timeline that they take back to school to study further. PHLF also provides students with a workbook, Your House, with worksheets on their school, and with a book of community stories, Memory Lane. Click here to see 15 photos of the award-winning educational program.
PHLF first developed the program for the Mt. Lebanon Public Library and many of the school tours still begin and end there. The program won a state Social Studies award in 2002 and continues each year through funding from the School District, a $3.00 per student tour fee, and the Alfred M. Oppenheimer Memorial Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Fine Foundation, and the McSwigan Family Foundation that help underwrite PHLF’s educational programs for students, teachers, and adults.
“My Tale of Two Cities,” Showing at Dormont’s Hollywood Theater, Friday October 21, 2011
This “funny and hopeful” Pittsburgh Comeback Story returns home at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 21, 2011, for a special screening at Dormont’s Hollywood Theater.
Carlynton Parents Group Vows to Keep SchoolPlans to run school board candidates to block Crafton Elementary closureThursday, February 24, 2011By Kim Lawrence
Carlynton Parents Group Vows to Keep School
A parents group in the Carlynton School District plans to run a slate of candidates in an effort to reverse the decision to consolidate Crafton and Carnegie elementary schools.
Carlynton school directors voted 5-4 last Thursday to close the two schools and construct a new elementary building for approximately $30 million in the vicinity of Carnegie Elementary. The Honus Wagner athletic field would remain untouched.
Thomas Brown, Patricia Schirripa, Thomas DiPietro, Ronald McCartney and Sandra Hughan supported the proposal, which has been discussed since last year.
Parents opposed to the plan have argued that a better use of funds would be to renovate the elementary buildings.
Crafton resident Megan Schriver said the slate will seek nominations May 17 for five school board seats as advocates of saving neighborhood schools, keeping neighborhoods intact and thriving, and being fiscally responsible with renovations and upkeep of school buildings.
“We don’t have the candidates yet, but they all will be individuals who understand the importance of neighborhood schools,” Mrs. Schriver said, noting that not all of the candidates will be from Crafton.
She is a member of Carlynton Save Our Schools, a group described on its website as parents, residents and business owners promoting fiscal responsibility by keeping and renovating community schools.
SOS has posted green and gold “save our neighborhood schools” yard signs throughout the district, which covers Carnegie, Crafton and Rosslyn Farms.
While there are no schools in Rosslyn Farms, the borough had sent a letter to the district, requesting school officials to consider reasonable and affordable renovations to the elementary schools and consider merging with another district.
The decision to consolidate was among 10 options presented in a feasibility study by L. Robert Kimball & Associates to renovate or expand schools or construct a new building.
The junior-senior high school was built in 1969, Carnegie Elementary was built in 1954 and Crafton Elementary was build in 1913. Each building has had at least one renovation.
At the Feb. 17 meeting, Crafton parents again pleaded their case about keeping their neighborhood school, and several Carnegie parents welcomed the idea of a new school in their neighborhood.
Mr. DiPietro said that because of Crafton council’s resolution and continued public pledge to keep Crafton Elementary School, the board was forced to chose Carnegie as the site for the new elementary school.
He said the district was dismayed by Crafton’s efforts to stop the building. He said sarcastically, “It’s a great message to send to the kids to have council threaten the school board.”
Director Sharon Wilson, the only board member who lives in Crafton, voted via speaker phone against the proposal.
She said she didn’t want to cut programs or maintain an empty building, but she wanted to have an increase in space and she wanted the cost of infrastructure to balance with the cost of education.
Director Betsy Tassaro who also voted no said, “I don’t feel like we’ve done enough.” She said she recognized that the communities want to keep their schools.
Comments from parents were heard for about an hour and a half prior to the vote.
Carnegie council members were also in attendance cheering the board on.
Councilwoman Carol Ann Covi said, “My bottom line is the children. I would love to see both schools renovated. We would welcome a new school in Carnegie.”
Carnegie council President Patrick Catena thanked the school board for its due diligence with the financial analysis.
He said renovating the schools would only be putting a Band-Aid on them and that everything would be more expensive a few years later.
“Carnegie council believes in consolidation,” Mr. Catena said. “It makes the most sense.”
Carlynton Votes to Consolidate Elementary SchoolsFriday, February 18, 2011By Kim Lawrence
The Carlynton school board voted 5-4 Thursday night to close Crafton and Carnegie Elementary Schools and build a new school at the site of the existing Carnegie Elementary School.
The decision came after about two hours of listening to Crafton parents discuss the devastation that would occur if they lost their neighborhood elementary school. Carnegie council members said they would welcome a consolidated school in their neighborhood.
School board President Thomas W. Brown, Vice President Patty Schirripa, Sandra Hughan, Ronald McCartney, and Thomas Di Pietro voted for this consolidation. Board members Nyra Schell, Betsy Tassaro, Sharon Wilson and Raymond Walkowiak dissented. Mr. McCartney made the motion to build a new elementary school at the Carnegie site to accomodate all of the children in the district. Director DiPietro seconded the motion.
The details have yet to emerge regarding where the students will go when their school is torn down. Mr. McCartney said that the Carnegie athletic field would remain intact.
Opponents to Closing Pitcairn Elementary School State CaseThursday, February 17, 2011By Deborah M. Todd, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Using a range of emotional and economic arguments, dozens opposed to the proposed closing of Pitcairn Elementary School stated their case Tuesday night during a public hearing hosted by the Gateway School District.
Standing before the school board and other district officials, the majority of speakers testified to the school’s significance to community vitality. Rollo Vecchio, president of Pitcairn council, said a condition of the original merger of the two districts serving Monroeville and Pitcairn in the 1950s was that a school building always remain in Pitcairn.
“It’s part of our community that has served its meaning well and I’m asking you to keep it up … It’s the centerpiece of our community and I hope it can stay that way,” he said.
The school district is considering closing Pitcairn Elementary as part of a realignment plan that could eliminate all elementary buildings in favor of a new K-4 building on the Gateway Campus.
Mr. Vecchio dismissed a finding by consulting firm Education Management Group LLC that the school faces threat of flooding from Dirty Camp Creek, stating that a project redirecting the stream is nearly 90 percent complete.
Many more speakers rejected aspects of the report, including no mention of how much money the district would save through the closure and a lack of plans to close any elementary school other than Pitcairn.
“There has been no positive plan for maintaining Pitcairn Elementary School presented by the school board. Overall, the conclusions of EMG were always prejudiced and slanted, targeting Pitcairn Elementary School time and time again for closure,” said Betsy Stevick, president of the Pitcairn High School Alumni Association.
Some speakers offered alternatives to the plan to consolidate schools. Speaker Fred Mendicina suggested closing University Park Elementary and distributing its students throughout the remaining schools to increase all of the buildings’ enrollment. Speaker Leeann Pruss suggested the district extend elementary schools to fifth grade and merge schools for grades 6-8.
“It would solve the issues of those wanting more students on Gateway Campus, it would give you [Gateway Middle School] located near the parkway and turnpike that could potentially sell for a lot more than Pitcairn Elementary, it would eliminate a transition for all students instead of increasing transitions for Pitcairn students, and it gives you a lot more future benefits than closing one elementary and leaving all others operating under capacity,” she said.
District officials declined comment following the meeting, but some of those who attended said they were encouraged by board members’ actions during the meeting.
“We don’t know, but it looked like they were paying attention,” Ms. Pruss said.
“They’re going to have to go home and digest the information,” Ms. Stevick said.
Either way, Ms. Pruss said, this isn’t the last the board has heard from them.
“They have 90 days, we’re not going to leave them alone, we’re not going to let it drop,” she said.
Historic Crafton Elementary School Threatened with Closure
January 28, 2011
In 2010, the Carlynton School District conducted a district-wide facilities-use study on renovating or replacing its two elementary schools: the Carnegie Elementary School and the Crafton Elementary School.
The Crafton Elementary School, built in 1913 and designed by architect Press C. Dowler, is a handsome Tudor-style building located at 1874 Crafton Blvd, a lovely residential neighborhood of Crafton Borough. The school is threatened with closure and ultimate abandonment in one of the options being considered.
Included in the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Architectural Survey of Historic Resources, the building has served as a community focal point for nearly a century and was one of the deciding criteria in selecting Crafton as the best place to raise children in Pennsylvania by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The Crafton Elementary School is made of hand-burned brick laid in Flemish bond and has two projecting bays with crenelated tower projections, giving the building a stately appearance.
Crafton Councilwoman April Weitzel called the building a “gem of the community that has served and will continue to serve the citizens of Crafton and Carnegie.” Councilwoman Weitzel is convinced that renovating the school will be less expensive, resulting in no tax increases for the district. She further stated that “maintaining our neighborhood schools instead of abandoning them helps stabilize property values and encourages others to move into Carnegie and Crafton.”
Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation would like to see this building continue being used as a school and has expressed its concern about possible closure of this important community asset. Renovation of historic schools is often less expensive than new construction. Restoration supports “green” policy and helps stabilize historic neighborhoods. This issue is scheduled to be discussed at the next School Board meeting. Comments can be sent to:
Carlynton School District
435 Kings Highway
Carnegie PA 15106
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Board Meeting: Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in the High School Cafeteria
Board Meeting: Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. in the High School Cafeteria