­­­“ South Philadelphia’s Bok Technical High School was Constructed in 1936 as one of Philadelphia’s largest WPA projects, the building was intended to train the next generation of students in vocational trades such as metal working, cosmetology, and mechanics. Seventy eight years later, Bok, as the building is referred to today, was shut down and sat vacant for two years before being sold in 2015. Now classrooms and workshops have been converted into creative maker’s spaces, small business offices, nonprofit offices, studios, and event space.

One of Bok’s biggest challenges is its high loss factor due to the historic hallways. Originally designed to allow for the egress of hundreds of students, the corridors take up a large portion of the building’s footprint but currently provide no great use or benefit to building tenants. A typical commercial building has a 20% loss factor for lobbies, corridors, electrical closets, and other non-leased areas. Bok’s loss factor is over 50%. On the first floor some of these non- leased areas provide public openness and services that benefit tenants and the community such as a seating area next to the cafe or a front door lobby area. However on upper floors these are empty, wide, quiet, and non-productive spaces.”

Our proposal transforms locker bays into niches that create opportunities for tenants to display, retail, work, and play. The structure uses recycled steel that delineates the shape of the removed lockers, and our “π” beam provides easy assemblage and flexible rearrangement. With minimal disruption to Bok’s historical interior features, the new bay allows dynamic interactions between tenants and visitors, integrating Bok with its neighborhood. With easy assemblage and optimized cost efficiency, the designed module, which comprises of various typologies, can be replicated and applied to different floors or different buildings similar to Bok.

Team member: Kaiwen Zhao, Malcolm Galang, Stella Xu, Dreama Lin, Jiachen Deng, Yuhan Zhang