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Friendship Charter School

Spring 2016 | Professor Stefani Danes

This Charter School located in Friendship, Pittsburgh, is a project-based learning school. My design focuses on creating collaborative work spaces, so students can work together to accomplish their hands-on assignments. The main concept of the building is the study bridges that span the commons space. Students working in these areas can see everything other students are working on in the school and be inspired by each other’s work. The classrooms in the building inspire collaboration. Two meeting rooms are found in each classroom.  Movable walls separate the classrooms.  When classes need to be taught individually but students need to work together as a grade, the walls disappear, and one large working space is created.

The Study Bridges 

Each of the study bridges consists of three areas: a social and study space, a teacher’s office, and an outdoor space. This program allows students to have easy access to their teachers while doing homework. It also gives students an easily accessible outdoor space, which can be hard to find in the city.

The Commons

The main multi-use space of the school is the Commons. It is used as the students’ cafe, auditorium and gym. Its multi-leveled ceiling is created from the three study bridges of the school.

To allow the most flexibility to students, there are three unique types of study areas in the building. The classroom layout gives teachers flexibility. Chairs can be arranged differently for various lessons. There are also meeting rooms to make small group work easier. The classrooms are clustered by grade on each floor. Each cluster can open and connect for a grade-wide lesson.

Working Areas

The bulk of the structure is made with a steel frame, but the study bridges over the commons needed a much stronger system. 4’ deep reinforced concrete beams were used to span the length of the commons. They attach to a structural CMU wall on the south side and reinforced concrete columns on the North.

The Structure

Façade Materials

The materials for the facade represent the materials of the buildings in the neighborhood. The metal panels that wrap the classrooms and multimedia library are found on many of the commercial building in the area. The wood panels echo the materials used in most of the detached homes in the neighborhood. The wood panels are also used as shading devices for the atrium. The wood is steamed and twisted 90 degrees on the west side of the building to create openings.

East-West Section

North Program

Center Circulation

South Program

South Elevation

East Elevation

South-North Section

Floor Plans

Separated Classroom Layout

Joined Classroom Layout

East Wall Section

South Wall Section


CMU Wall

Reinforced Concrete


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