Urban Workshop

Students Collaborating, urban planning layout, final product


The Mission

The Urban Workshop at Temple University is a design collaborative formed by faculty in the Architecture Department in partnership with allied disciplines to explore complex design problems that emerge in rebuilding neighborhoods in the post-industrial city. Its purpose is to engage the culture of urban communities in making places that are beautiful, sustainable, and humane.

The Urban Workshop is project-based, providing a setting for interdisciplinary design and applied research and a curricular framework for community-based learning. Faculty and students are engaged with communities in researching and visioning the neighborhood context, designing buildings and landscapes and making public art. We see these undertakings as interconnected and critically dependent on a participatory relationship with our community partners. By employing multiple points of view, we can weave together what is small, tangible and local with the systemic patterns that form the ecology of the neighborhood environment. Design strategies developed in these circumstances can be brought to bear on the broader questions about how we live together in the contemporary city.

The Urban Workshop is well situated to address the difficult issues associated with urban regeneration. The changing physical environment of North Philadelphia calls for critical thought and broad-based design speculation that can build paradigmatic sustainable neighborhoods for the 21st century.

The Goals

The Urban Workshop has three major goals:

  1. 1. To offer a collaborative academy-community practice in design, urban research, building, and art-making that advances in a holistic way, key projects in the neighborhoods;

  2. 2. To create curricular opportunities for students; providing depth and humanity to their creative education through unique interdisciplinary and community-based experience; and

  3. 3. To advance knowledge in the area of sustainable urban place-making.

Interdisciplinary Projects and Community Partners

2004–present, Village of Arts and Humanities

  • 2012— Environmental Center Teaching Pavilion: Design-Build
  • 2012— Digging Deeper: Site + Building Design (with WellsAppel, Landscape Architects)
  • 2007— Baobab Park Exhibition Site Plan and threshold (Architecture+ Landscape Architecture)
  • 2006— Education Building Addition programming: (Architecture+JacobsWyper Architects)
  • 2004— Shared Prosperity/ Germantown Avenue Urban Design Study; (Architecture+Anthropology+UPenn Planning)

2002–2003, Norris Square Civic Association

  • 2002–2003— Norris Square Civic Association: Seven Acre Site Plan; (Architecture+Business)
  • Neighborhood Design and Art Projects. (Architecture + Sculpture+ LA/Hort + Geography)

1999–2010, Habitat Philadelphia

  • 2010— Post occupancy assessment for Project 1800
  • Habitat North Philadelphia Neighborhood evolution study
  • 1999–2009— Project 1800. 20 new and renovated houses (with Jacobs/Wyper Architects)

Awards, Exhibitions and Publications

2012— Honorable Mention, SEED International Competition for Public Interest Design. Digging Deeper
2011— Harrison, S. “Finding the Human Landscape of North Philadelphia” in Service Learning in Design: Educating at the Boundaries, New Village Press, Oakland
2010— Festival Architecttura 5, Parma IT. Exhibition and Publication “The Craft of Inefficiency: Habitat in North Philadelphia 1999–2009”
2009— Citation of Merit Award, AIA Pennsylvania, Architectural Excellence Awards Program, for “Shared Prosperity and Beyond: A University-Community Partnership”
2006— ARCC/EAAE International Conference, Finalist: Best Paper Award “Four Ways of Knowing”: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Teaching Community-Based Design

Collaborators with Architecture

Academic collaborators: Temple’s departments of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture, Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, Geography and Urban Studies, Social Entrepreneurship, and Anthropology, PennDesign’s Planning Department, the University Community Collaborative of Philadelphia. Professional collaborators Jacobs/Wyper Architects and WellsAppel Landscape Architecture.


Urban Workshop has been supported both by external project grants and by the Temple University Office of Research. External funders include: the Norris Square Civic Association, Heritage Philadelphia Program of the Pew Charitable Trusts and Wachovia Regional Foundation via The Village of Arts and Humanities, the Non-Profit Finance Fund, and the University Community Collaborative of Philadelphia.


Sally Harrison, AIA / Director / sally.harrison@temple.edu / 215.850.4433
Vojislav Ristic / Architecture faculty collaborator / vristic@temple.edu