Boston Schoolyard Initiative
Boston, MA | 2007-2012
Building on the success of several earlier pilot projects by the Boston Schoolyard Initiative (BSI), we developed a “kit of parts” design approach to outdoor classrooms at Boston Public Schools sites to integrate the experience of outdoor learning into urban schoolyards. We’ve employed this approach at nine sites throughout Boston, each using the kit of elements and spatial strategies that enable teaching and allow for flexibility of use, but designed to work with the particular opportunities and constraints of that schoolyard and to meet each school’s unique needs.
The outdoor classrooms are small spaces carved out of the already limited space available on each school property, and often have minimal separation from adjacent streets and residences. These spaces were underutilized areas of asphalt, concrete, or weedy, compacted earth before being converted into vibrant, green environments for teaching and learning. Supported by teacher training from BSI, the greatest measure of success of these spaces has been their high level of use by classes in a variety of subjects: science, art, and writing, among others. These lively, textured and experiential spaces have engaged students and teachers, and have become both a resource and source of pride for the schools where they’re located.
Boston Public Schools
Schoolyard Funders Collaborative
East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Roxbury, Brighton, Mattapan, Massachusetts
Ross Miller, collaborating artist
KMDG, landscape architect
2014 Honor Award, Boston Society of Landscape Architects
Christian Phillips Photography