With the objective of promoting project based education for grades 6 - 8, the Hazelwood Charter School challenges the existing paradigm of the typical classroom through the creation of open, flexible spaces that foster collaboration and learning through making. 


Hazelwood Charter School

Spring 2016

Advised by Jeff Davis 



Formerly an industrial iron and steel neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Hazelwood was home home to a largely Irish and Eastern European coke worker population. During the 1980's, the declining steel industry led to the a vacancy of the majority of the neighborhood. Presently, Hazelwood faces a food desert, a lack of business and industry, and a looming redevelopment that threatens to alter the lifestyle of the current residents. 

The design of the charter school takes this potential development into consideration and aims to function as urban infill serving the currently undeserved community. In addition, the design maximizes on the existing vacancy in its surrounding by utilizing vacant lots as spaces for outdoor recreation and community engagement. 


Program Distribution

The distribution of the different program elements is primarily based off the existence of three individual work studios for each of the three grade levels. Each of these studios spaces are arranged and designed for different kinds of work, from more individual work to most collaborative. Each of these studio sets have a small outdoor balcony that connects to the outside.

The charter school houses a project resource center that is accessible to the community after school hours as well as a commons area that features a large, flexible space for any kind of activity the students may need. These spaces are readily accessible by all the studios and have the option of having free flowing circulation from one space to another. 


Formal Strategy

The overall form of the building is defined by the articulation of the three grade levels housed within. These distinct divisions allow for the option of free flowing circulation within the shared spaces or the fragmented ownership of these through the use operable dividers. 

The exterior of the structure expresses three distinct modules cladded in corten steel panels with extensive glazing and a concrete panel backdrop. The entrance to the building is articulated using a glass curtain wall with perforated corten steel panels overlayed on top as shading devices.