Bronx, NY
Detroit Collaborative Design Center with Eric Daniels, Architect

St. Ignatius Academy is a Jesuit sponsored middle school in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, NY. The Design Center was approached by Fr. Joseph Towle, SJ, who requested design assistance with the renovation and adaptive reuse of a former grocery store, which he planned to use as a temporary location for this new school. They required four basic components: space planning, design, cultural sensitivity and student participation.

Once the program requirements were established and Fr. Towle gained site control, a schematic plan was developed. The schematic plan was developed using advance digital modeling systems, including Silicon Graphics workstations, Alias Auto Studio, AutoCAD, Presenter and several other image editing tools. Once the model was created, it was imported to video to facilitate group presentations. After the design was approved, the CAD files were then transferred to a laser cutting system to produce templates which were used during the fabrication of cabinets. All cabinet fabrication was done at the School of Architecture by Design Center Staff and students. Cabinets were built as kits and then transported to the Bronx, where they were assembled and finished by junior high school students seeking to attend the school.

The quality of the space is achieved through use of dynamic intersecting forms and a variety of exposed materials. The bold use of colors and the creative combination of materials, along with the custom movable cabinets creates a learning environment which captures the exuberant spirit of the students, yet provides the order necessary for learning. The project has demonstrated that with a small budget, a tight space, a participatory design process, and a spirit of creativity, quality design can be achieved which serves the poor. Though this process took longer than a more conventional method, the experience the boys received corresponds to the spirit of holistic education promoted by the St. Ignatius Academy.

Terrence Curry (Designer)
David Garnett
Christopher Smith
Sonja Ewing

AIA Detroit Design Honor Award (1996)
AIA Michigan Design Honor Award (1996)
AIA New York Design Honor Award (1996)
Interiors Magazine Best School Design Award (1996)