Classroom Prototype: A Design-Build Community Engaged Studio

Red and orange colored string creates a weaved pattern in the foreground. In the background, a rooftop with colorful furniture.

The project will engage community partners, Pratt faculty, and students in a design project focused on a rethinking of classroom furniture for an environmentally conscious project-based learning environment in a New York City Public School.

In the fall of 2022 PS 676 in Red Hook began its transition from an elementary School to the Harbor Middle School. The school serves a diverse community of students from both the immediate community and throughout District 15 in Brooklyn. The furniture will be a prototype for the science/math classroom in the current building and will be designed to be mass-customizable so that it can be utilized in the future in other classrooms and transportable so that it can be relocated to the future site of the school in a newly constructed building on Delavan Street also in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Orange, red and yellow cushions on top of benches made from wooden pallets.

A critical goal of the school is to design a more sustainable Red Hook and NY Harbor. In their science classes, the students explore the impact of climate change on the NY Harbor and the Red Hook Community through the lens of human-influenced causes. The educational furniture system will be designed to support learning and express the values of the school through sustainable design and construction. The PS 676 Elementary School has been under-enrolled; through community discussion, it was found that a neighboring school had space for zoned PS 676 students and that the community had a far greater need for a middle school. A project-based Harbor Middle School would be able to engage in hands-on project-based learning in the community that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy. The classrooms are currently under-fitted for storage and are equipped with traditional school tables. This project would seek to design and prototype a system that can support the development, storage, and display of classroom materials and physical projects that are created in the classrooms. The new school is drawing a far greater number of students than the elementary school with two near full 6th-grade classes in the 2022-23 school year (the first year of the school). Harbor Middle School has already enrolled to capacity (with a wait list) with three full 6th-grade classes for the 2023-24 school year.

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