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Eugenia Ellis Leads Design-Build Project at Drexel for Mantua Urban Peace Garden

Drexel Helps Community Garden Spring Up in Mantua
30 October 2013 by Matt Erickson

What was once a vacant lot in West Philadelphia's Mantua neighborhood is now a vegetable-filled garden, thanks in part to Drexel. And with more help from the University, the site may be transformed even further in the future.


Drexel's contributions are far from complete. Gena Ellis, an architect and associate professor with a dual appointment in the College of Engineering and the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, has a hope for a transformable structure that could serve all sorts of purposes for the garden. She'll be leading a multidisciplinary two-term course, starting in the winter, during which Drexel students will design and build it.

The goal will be a structure that can provide shade during the hot summer months to protect the fresh produce and can transform from a farmer's market to a festival stage: a structure that can accommodate different kinds of community activities from small group gatherings to music festivals. Ellis said, "What if, like a radio's dial, its acoustic properties could be "tuned" to focus inward for intimate storytelling and outward for community concerts?" It could serve as something beyond that for Mantua, too, she said."The transformable structure could become a community landmark and place of identity for the residents."

But whatever this structure turns out to be, she said, it will be planned and designed along with PHS and neighborhood residents in consensus.

"The hope is for it to be the community's dream, not Drexel's dream," she said.

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This entry was posted on March 11, 2014

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