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Planning for the Future of our School

Planning for the Future of our School
By Steve Albert

Earlier this month, PJA formally launched the process of crafting a new campus facilities plan to ensure that we can meet our programmatic needs in the coming decades. The process, which is being completed in conjunction with the MJCC, began in 2018. At that time, we received a generous matching gift of $50,000 from Jordan Schnitzer to undertake a comprehensive campus plan, and we quickly raised the matching funds. We then set up a Campus Plan Working Group that consisted of members of the PJA board and administration to review our facility and begin identifying opportunities to repurpose, renovate, and expand portions of campus to enable our facility to meet the future needs of our school.

In late 2019, we met with a variety of different architectural firms to select a design team to lead this process. Ultimately, we selected two firms to collaborate on guiding our effort: Chicago-based 180 Studio and Portland-based Opsis Architecture. Each firm has extensive experience working with schools and developing campus plans, and they complement one another in what they bring to the process. In early 2020, we created a 7-month timeline for the development of the plan.

And then we waited.

In order to kick-off the process, it was important for the design team to observe “normal” utilization of our building, which wasn’t possible during the last few years. Now, after, a lengthy delay, we have finally begun this important work. During the first week of February, the design team visited PJA and met with numerous members of our community – board members, administrators, teachers, students, and parents – representing our Day School, Early Childhood, and Afterschool programs. The goal of “Insight Week” was to help the design team understand PJA and learn about the identity of our school, the character of our community, our institutional values, and our collective vision for the future. Through a series of small discussions and larger workshops, the design team had the opportunity to learn all about PJA, and this preliminary work will establish the “design drivers” that guide the plan development.

We are extremely excited about this project and look forward to providing updates in the coming months!