July 15, 2019

Baltimore Office Adopts Local School

Adopt-a-School is back! Since we started the initiative in 2017, a number of students declared that they want to become designers. Hearing that, I think we’re making a great success. I’m hoping we can one day hire them as interns in one of our high school programs.

Student interests first. We had a mix of bright fourth and fifth graders already prepared to design thanks to their STEAM curriculum. As always, we began with a visioning session to survey student interests and concerns within the school. Students brought up ideas regarding their neighborhoods and places of interest favored by their families. We took this as a cue that our student body was rather concerned with community health and livelihood of their locale.

Students reflect on their drawings and personal interests.


Community Center for Brehms Lane. Students based a number of their interests on recollections of their local amenities such as city pools, libraries, and parks. We pondered directions and played out scenarios for this year’s final activity, before realizing that a community center concept proposal fit best for this year’s students and subsequent developments. Makes a lot of sense when this typology is so inclusive and flexible!

Students investigate community center precedents, namely, CannonDesign’s very own Maryland Heights Community Center!


Some early concepts of spaces the students planned


Most students could already read maps and re-orient themselves despite non-cardinal orientations.


Final charrette and site visit. We culminated this year’s lessons with a site planning + programming activity, then a site visit stake out their proposals. The democratically-decided program provided included a 6000 sf gymnasium, 1000 sf classroom, 2500 sf media center, and support spaces. Legos were invaluable; thanks to some of the popular voxel games out there, Legos were the best scale reference for our activities! Note: one Lego unit = 16mm. We ventured out to our site (the school’s backyard) and staked out the most comprehensive proposal.

Final charrette! Students using Lego on a scaled site plan to test-fit their community center designs.


Once students experienced a real-scale of their proposals, they began shifting and modifying their spaces as we “began construction” – as all great designers do of course! There were genuinely great ideas and concerns many students considered, ranging from moving planned entrances to connecting the main entrance to their modular classroom buildings.

As a bonus, we were also invited to participate in their Brehms Lane PCS Career Day. A number of us presented the exciting world and process of becoming an architect or interior designer, and more importantly, we had another opportunity to inspire others to pursue a field related to design. See our highlights below!


Adopt a School Team 2019

Briana Blowe
Erin Crowley
Collin Haslup
Briana Jones
Adam Louie
Karen Martin
Ryan Pietrowski
Lisa Reed
Ashley Roe
Weifang Wu