Peace Pavilion Project

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Peace Park Pavilion. BCJ Architects 2019.
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Community design session led by Peace Park organizers and Diverse Design students of PennDesign, 2016.

In the very midst of fight to preserve the Peace Park which was under existential threat from PHA development, Park members, staff and the general Sharswood, North Philadelphia community had been working with graduate design students for two years (2015-2017) in a design /build process. Phase 1 of the Peace Park redevelopment process began with the landscape design which was completed in 2016 with the positive support of partners Habitat for Humanity and Lowes Home Improvement. Soon after, the community along with students, professionals, facilitated tours,

conferences, raised funds, and held several planning workshops projecting the idea and vision of a Black community-designed and controlled autonomous ecology campus in which the new Pavilion would be central. This process has produced three versions of concept design

documents which collectively represent the parks vision for a sustainable building and educational facility on its campus. The project has grown from a student led initiative to a professional design project in partnership with Bohlin Chywinski Jackson Architects. The final design is based on the following overall ideals that were established during the student led phase of this project.

Influenced by the creative legacy of the Black Arts Movement and ideals of pan-African and New Afrikan liberation aesthetics, the Peace Park has adopted an Afro futurist approach for the design of the building that will merge and highlight continuities between ancient African architecture from countries of the western coast of the continent and modern African American architecture typologies. Past technological or design innovations from ancient and modern west African culture are embedded within the design context. The primary roof structure and open floor plan is inspired by The Oshun Temple located in Osogbo Sacred Grove in Niger. The framing of solar progress that animates and illuminates religious symbology along the east axes of the Temple of Edfu. The porch became an American architectural form following the shotgun houses built by enslaved Africans imported from traditional homes in West Africa. It provides a place for leisure, gathering, socializing, and contributes to the life of American urban areas. These typologies are integrated by the African concept of polychronic time, which places one at the center of the experience to move with time. Light metaphorically becomes the source of knowledge and becoming. Sunlight passes through the roof onto the porch and extends into the landscape merging the African with the American and architecture with the landscape.  Light cast onto the porch to at marked intervals to commemorate historical events of African American history, Philadelphian history, and the history of the North Philly Peace Park. ​

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Sacred Grove of Oshun, Niger.
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Phase II Peace Park Pavilion. BCJ Architects 2019.

Project Team 

The Peace Pavilion Project Team (2016-2021) was a subcommittee of Peace Park Design, (the design, planning and architecture wing of the Philly Peace Park) tasked with the design, development and planning of the new educational facility at the Philly Peace Park's North Philly Campus. The Peace Pavilion Project Team in collaboration Bohlin Chywinski Jackson Architects was tasked by Park founder Brother Tommy Joshua Caison with successfully bringing the Peace Pavilion Project to its construction phase. We are currently in Phase 2 Construction, with completion expected Fall 2022.         

Maya L. Thomas, Project Manager 

Nyasha Felder, Conceptual Designer 

Levi Joynes, Environmental Science 

Li Sumpter, Art & Eco-Design 

Loretta Mary, Eco-Design  

Zakiyyah Ali, Raw Food Chef 

Rick Ross, Engineering  

Members (2016-2021)

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Libby Bland, Landscape Design  

Peace Pavilion Groundbreaking Ceremony, May 2021 North Philly Peace Park 

Kat Engleman, Landscape Design  

Pili X, Co-Founder & Director of Community Partnerships

Tommy Joshua Caison, Founder & Executive Director