Students Learn about Sustainability & Design

Sixth graders at Eden Hall Upper Elementary shared their architectural designs with a panel of experts on April 5, 2016.

Students were challenged to repurpose unused space (garage) found on neighboring Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus in a sustainable and meaningful way to better serve the community.

They worked in small teams, created a design and model and made a presentation to a panel of community experts that included: Architect Paul Tellers, Architectural Historian Kelley Stroup, Carnegie Mellon School (CMU) of Architecture Representative Samantha Carter, CMU Outreach Coordinator Samantha Weaver, Chatham University Representative Lou Anne Caligiuri, Young Preservationists Association Representative Christopher Driscoll, Engineering Consultant Brian Newhouse, and Northwood Realtor Nancy Evans.

The Architectural Design Challenge addressed many areas in science, technology, art, mathematics.   Students developed an understanding of:

  • Technological Design
  • Personal & Community Health
  • Solutions Using a Systematic Process to Deal with Constraints & Meeting Criteria
  • How to Analyze Data to Determine Similarities & Differences among Several Design Solutions 


The winning project was created by Team MRCR, which was made up of sixth-grade students Riley Doyle, Matt Farmar, Rohan Shah and CJ Williams.

The team repurposed a garage into a community place called History Hangout. The design featured a community center in which folks could visit and bring items to trade. The students said it was a way for members of the community to share his or her own history while recycling goods. There would be a café on the main floor. Food for the café would be grown on site in a garden behind the center. In addition, the center had solar panels.

The students not only had to work as a team to research their design, but create it and present the final project to the panel. Through presentation, the students explained not only the successes of the project, but the challenges.  The project taught students not only design skills but to be flexible. At one point the students forgot to include an entrance for visitors who might have mobility disabilities and had to rethink their big idea three times.

“We had lots of problems, but we were able to solve them as a team,” said sixth grader Rohan Shah.

The group worked through a lot of discussion until they reached a final an end product.

 “We have learned so much about group work,” said Riley Doyle. “Group discussions weren’t always so polite, but we were able to create something so beautiful.”

Teachers Jennifer Kopach and Joanna Sovek worked with the sixth grade teachers and students. The students and staff worked  who to secure the panel of judges. Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Executive Director Louise Sturgess, Chatham University Sustainability and Education Coordinator-Community Programs Kelly Henderson and Art Teacher Katelyn Falleroni.