Philadelphia, PA, 2006-2007
Montessori education is based on the idea of cultivating knowledge through direct experience. Classroom activities aim to be lively and engaging; children are involved directly in many practical tasks, including such things as making their own lunch.
Greene Towne is a Montessori School located in Center City Philadelphia. When the success of the school led to enrollments beyond the capacity of the the main building, the board decided to relocate the preschool program. The space selected featured affordable rent, an adjacent outdoor courtyard, and room for expansion–qualities that over-shadowed the fact that it was a half-level below grade.
The teaching plan called for 2 classrooms, but the teachers anticipated the need to merge the two groups regularly over the course of the school day. The resulting plan makes use of sliding panels subdivide a large space. Each classroom has a toddler kitchenette, and there is one, shared, toddler toilet. An adult-sized kitchen and laundry supplements the tiny facilities.
A new entry was cut in an existing wall to allow the children to come and go through the outdoor courtyard. The project was completed on a small budget and tight schedule.