Spotlight on Expansion

“The basis of artistic creation is not what is, but what might be;
not the real, but the possible.” – Rudolf Steiner

The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh has a history of embracing the possible and then making it happen. In 2003, as a ten-year-old school, the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh became a first-time property owner. The board, faculty, and administration voted to purchase our current property with an imagination of how the school would grow. At the time, the school rented a small building on the South Side with an enrollment of approximately 90 students in Morning Garden through 5th grade. Since moving to our current campus fourteen years ago, the school has shared our building with numerous tenants until recently finding that we needed all of the space for ourselves. We are growing into our vision.

Rudolf Steiner intended for Waldorf schools to be cultural centers and we see this potential coming to fruition at WSP now more than ever. You, our deeply engaged community, continue to step up to the challenge of making our facilities and grounds meet our growing enrollment. Our property has given us the opportunity to imagine a place that serves simultaneously as a model of Historic Preservation and a model of healthy, green building. It is a place that provides another foundation stone to the economic and social revitalization of the Garfield, Friendship, and Bloomfield neighborhoods. It is a place where numerous mature trees extend their branches over 2.4 acres of green space in the city. It is a place where every child spends time outside as part of their daily education.

In 2003, our strategic plan envisioned full early childhood classrooms and classes of 20 students in grades 1-8.  In 2014, eleven years later, we graduated our first 8th grade. Since 2012, we have completed renovations of six classrooms as well as three grounds-related projects including the Dandelion Kindergarten; third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grade classrooms; the Place Study (May 2014); the Grades Natural Playground (April 2016); and the Garden Classroom Project (February 2016).  From late 2014 until March 2017, we embarked on a master planning process to design how our buildings and grounds could continue to change and expand to meet our growing enrollment.

We are just one 8th grade classroom away from completing phase one of our campus master plan. Our original hope was to build a SEED Classroom, a modular classroom that would meet Living Building Challenge (LBC) standards. After considerable consultation, we learned that a modular classroom would not increase the value of our property and does not allow enough choices about the aesthetics of the building. For this reason, over the summer the WSP Board of Trustees made the decision for the Expansion Team to begin working with a new architectural firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ). Our goals for the building include:

  • Design a healthy, regenerative, place-based eighth-grade classroom.
  • Include an outdoor performance space as a secondary function. The audience seating will be situated on the grounds to view a performance from a stage which also serves as a porch for the classroom.

When not in use by our students, the classroom would provide a space for community building, family and adult education, and networking opportunities. The new design has the potential of meeting Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Recognition as a healthy, high-performing, sustainable classroom. In addition, the design exudes beauty and takes into account all of the feedback that we gathered from students, faculty, staff, board members, and community partners during our SEED Classroom quest. The classroom will be constructed using materials that will ensure the healthiest learning environment for our students and a design that is respectful of our current buildings and beloved green space.

The classroom must be built by the start of the 2019-2020 school year in order to serve our current sixth grade class. We have come so far and have just one more classroom to go in order to have a classroom for each of our robust grades classes. By supporting the Annual Fund, you support expansion efforts which serve our growing community – a community where we continue to embrace our future.

 

 

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