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Peaslee Neighborhood Center

Over-the-Rhine Peaslee Neighborhood Center

Center for Community Engagement

The Center for Community Engagement is a collaboration between Miami University and community groups within the Cincinnati inner-city neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine that incorporates a design-build program and a residency program.

"In its long-term relationship with these organizations, their challenge to us is explicit: Seek out those most vulnerable and oppressed so that you might learn how to live," said Director Tom Dutton, who founded the center in 2002.

"Taking this challenge seriously—which is a profound call to respect the neighborhood and its people, to walk with and learn from them in the interest of social justice, and to reach a genuine reciprocity—has in turn shaped our understanding of community engagement."

Over-the-Rhine DesignBuild Studio focuses on three modes of engagement:

  • Redesign and renovation of historic buildings in the neighborhood
  • Design of larger-scale projects for nonprofit community development corporations, through the Atelier studio
  • Community design advocacy and assistance on policy, zoning, and building code issues

Over-the-Rhine Residency Program

Twelve students from a variety of majors participate in integrated academics with a full immersion experience, living and working in the "school of social life" for a full semester.

  • Students take a full load of courses.
  • Architecture and interior design majors design and build out spaces for low- and moderate-income residents.
  • Students from other majors work in various neighborhood institutions that serve the underserved, totaling 24–27 hours per week.

The Peaslee Neighborhood Center in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine serves as the latest site where Miami University architecture students learn there is more to efficient design than clean lines and intricate embellishments.

The Peaslee Center, a former Cincinnati public school now home to a child care center, community arts and music programs and several nonprofits, has been an educational and cultural resource in Over-the-Rhine for decades.

"Peaslee is housed in a three-story Modernist concrete-and-glass school and, although the building lacks the historical detailing of its neighbors, the building made an ideal platform for multiple investigations by architecture students, " said John Blake, coordinator for community projects at the Miami University Center for Community Engagement and instructor for Miami's DesignBuild Studio.

"Although Peaslee's space is well suited for its activities, the building lacks in energy efficiency. Its 1950s solid, structural build makes it prime for retrofitting," Blake said.

Miami students enrolled in the Atelier Program have been assessing building conditions and usage and translating the findings into drawings, details and specifications. Armed with this detailed information, Peaslee can implement some rudimentary strategies immediately and frame a capital campaign around the more complex or costly items.

The Atelier Program: Not your average internship

The Atelier Program pairs students with an architectural firm (CR architecture + design) where they spend an entire semester working alongside professionals in the office setting. Unlike an internship or co-op, students take the lead on a project with the architects and mechanical engineers of the firm providing guidance and expertise. This semester, the students have also teamed with Scott Johnston, director of Miami University's Center for Building Science Research, and his Oxford-based architecture studio.

"They're our in-house energy modeling consultants," said Blake.

The assessment conducted by the students found that immediate tweaks as well as long-term structural improvement recommendations pose opportunities for making major differences to Peaslee's building operational expenses.

"It's not a glamorous task but necessary to help Peaslee administration prioritize improvement activities for the building," Blake said. "At first students didn't recognize their impact. It's not like the high-profile studio work they are used to. It is less theoretical and more pragmatic."

Junior architect majors Alex Hengstebeck and Jordan Osborne explained students conducted on-site mechanical systems and space utilization analysis, reviewed window replacement options and studied green building certification requirements.

"It's been an invaluable experience working in the professional environment, speaking with specialists, learning specific building codes and interacting with clients by guiding them with all this expertise so they can make the best decision for their needs," Hengstebeck said.

Sustainable design solutions

As in the case of Peaslee's electricity bill, students realized Peaslee was billed as if it was a fully operational elementary school. These findings spearheaded an effort to get this changed so they are billed on their actual usage.

In addition, highly inefficient glass fronts at both the north and south sides of the building need replacement, and students are working to meet environmentally sustainable goals in their recommendations. They found that Peaslee's building, though needing some repair, is far ahead in the use of passive cooling methods and is ideally situated for natural daylighting.

Nicole Winkler, a junior, explained, "With better glass, the clients can reduce their heat loss and reduce their electricity costs by increasing the use of daylight."

Students continue to tweak design-build schemes for future expansion/development of Peaslee, keeping in mind how they currently function so they don't lose their character.

"Peaslee is a nonprofit with limited funds. However, we propose some hypothetical options while being pragmatic in the hopes of making renovation projects more attractive for potential sponsors," Osborne said. "This is the beauty of having a real project, facing real issues like budgets. We want to take it to its limits and get the most energy efficient space possible."

"The Peaslee Neighborhood Center brings the whole Over-the-Rhine experience full circle—we get to tie in a cultural perspective with the tool of architectural design to benefit a community," Hengstebeck said.

Written by Carole Johnson, University Communications and Marketing

Published April 2013

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Peaslee Neighborhood Center sketch

Peaslee Neighborhood Center sketch

Hand marker rendering of Peaslee's existing southern face
Peaslee greenhouse sketch

Peaslee greenhouse sketch

Hand rendering of proposed southern greenhouse addition
Architecture students at work

Architecture students at work

Alex Hengstebeck and instructor John Blake review plans for the new facade design at Peaslee Neighborhood Center
In living color

In living color

The work space for a facade iteration
Creative ideas on paper

Creative ideas on paper

Analog drawing iterations
Brainstorming green ideas

Brainstorming green ideas

Section detail illustrating natural drainage system
Detailing

Detailing

Analog meets digital medium
South wall

South wall

Sketched wall sections
Daylighting

Daylighting

Hand sketch of proposed interior light shelf system
Data mining

Data mining

Students Alexa Yoon (left) and Alex Hengstebeck (right) make additions to a digital model using industry leading Revit software.
Peaslee 3-D model

Peaslee 3-D model

Computer-generated rendering of a proposed secondary entrance at Peaslee Neighborhood Center

A word from the executive director

What Miami students do for us is absolutely incredible. We would never be able to do a complete energy analysis on our own. We are really excited about the potential for us to incorporate alternative energy projects into the building design, like daylighting and solar roof panels.
—Kathy Hunt, Over-the-Rhine's Peaslee Neighborhood Center executive director.

Center for Community Engagement

The Center for Community Engagement is a collaboration between Miami University and community groups within the Cincinnati inner-city neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine that incorporates a design-build program and a residency program.

"In its long-term relationship with these organizations, their challenge to us is explicit: Seek out those most vulnerable and oppressed so that you might learn how to live," said Director Tom Dutton, who founded the center in 2002.

"Taking this challenge seriously—which is a profound call to respect the neighborhood and its people, to walk with and learn from them in the interest of social justice, and to reach a genuine reciprocity—has in turn shaped our understanding of community engagement."

Over-the-Rhine DesignBuild Studio focuses on three modes of engagement:

  • Redesign and renovation of historic buildings in the neighborhood
  • Design of larger-scale projects for nonprofit community development corporations, through the Atelier studio
  • Community design advocacy and assistance on policy, zoning, and building code issues

Over-the-Rhine Residency Program

Twelve students from a variety of majors participate in integrated academics with a full immersion experience, living and working in the "school of social life" for a full semester.

  • Students take a full load of courses.
  • Architecture and interior design majors design and build out spaces for low- and moderate-income residents.
  • Students from other majors work in various neighborhood institutions that serve the underserved, totaling 24–27 hours per week.
Locations
Luxembourg
West Chester
Middletown
Hamilton
Oxford
  • Luxembourg
    Luxembourg

    John E. Dolibois European Center, Luxembourg

    One of Miami's oldest continuous study abroad programs, the Miami University John E. Dolibois Center (MUDEC) in Luxembourg offers students the opportunity to enroll in Miami classes taught by European-based and Ohio-based Miami faculty. Students enjoy a unique combination of first-class academics, engagement in the local community, and various faculty-guided and independent travel opportunities.

    Contact and emergency information for the Luxembourg Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    Château de Differdange
    1, Impasse du Château
    L-4524 Differdange
    Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
    luxembourg@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/luxembourg

    217-222 MacMillan Hall
    531 E. Spring Street
    Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA

    Directions

    Main Operator: 011-352-582222-1
    Oxford-based Coordinator: 513-529-5050
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • West Chester
    West Chester

    Voice of America Learning Center

    Located midway between Cincinnati and Dayton along I-75, the Voice of America Learning Center (VOALC) offers undergraduate and graduate courses and programs drawn from Miami's Regional and Oxford campuses. Home to Miami's MBA program, the Learning Center provides ready access to graduate programs for area educators and courses leading to the BIS degree for undergraduates.

    Contact and emergency information for the Voice of America Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    7847 VOA Park Dr.
    (Corner of VOA Park Dr. and Cox Rd.)
    West Chester, OH 45069
     
    voalc@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/voalc

    Printable Floor Plan
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-895-8862
    (From Middletown) 513-217-8862
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Middletown
    Middletown

    Middletown Regional Campus

    Nestled on 141 acres near I-75, Miami University Middletown offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Nearby Greentree Health Science Academy immerses Miami's nursing and health information technology students in the health care experience while taking classes.

    Contact and emergency information for the Middletown Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

     4200 N. University Blvd.
    Middletown, OH 45042
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-727-3200
    (Toll-free) 1-86-MIAMI-MID
    Office of Admission: 513-727-3216
    Campus Status Line: 513-727-3477
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Hamilton
    Hamilton

    Hamilton Regional Campus

    A compact, friendly, commuter campus, Miami Hamilton offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Small class sizes, on-site child care, and flexible scheduling make Miami Hamilton attractive to students at all stages of life and career.

    Contact and emergency information for the Hamilton Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    1601 University Blvd.
    Hamilton, OH 45011
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-785-3000
    Office of Admission: 513-785-3111
    Campus Status Line: 513-785-3077
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Oxford
    Oxford

    Miami University, Oxford Ohio

    Nationally recognized as one of the most outstanding undergraduate institutions, Miami University is a public university located in Oxford, Ohio. With a student body of 16,000, Miami effectively combines a wide range of strong academic programs with faculty who love to teach and the personal attention ordinarily found only at much smaller institutions.

    Contact and emergency information for the Oxford Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    501 E. High St.
    Oxford, OH 45056

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-529-1809
    Office of Admission: 513-529-2531
    Vine Hotline: 513-529-6400
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency