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The City School | A Critique of the Architecture and Planning of Urban Educational Institutions

The architectural relationship between schools and their cities can become radically more contextual and porous, allowing schools to overcome the introverted ‘campus’ typology and branch out to the rest of the urban fabric they have historically isolated themselves from. This spatial and programmatic configuration allows schools, which are often lacking a key framework of amenities and resources, to best serve their own students, sharing programmatic resources across traditional physical and bureaucratic boundaries.

Utilizing existing vacant buildings and land on a large site in Philadelphia, this thesis seeks to create an interior and exterior teaching landscape that explores a learning environment that has a more open relationship to its surrounding community. Through adaptive reuse, this model for a new urban school system seeks to improve the overall urban experience both within and outside of schools.

This Master of Architecture thesis work was done at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design and advised by David Leatherbarrow.


Women in the Design World: Work in Progress, an exhibition presented by the Sam Fos School of Design and Visual arts in conjunction with the Women in Architecture Symposium 2014.

Lea Oxenhandler, LEED AP / Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, 2009