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Inside Bok: The Bright Future Envisioned For One of Philadelphia’s Abandoned Public Schools

October 14, 2014

PLEASE NOTE: Bok is currently being used as the storage center for all 20 of the closed schools. So, many of the objects in the photos below have not been ‘abandoned,’ but are just currently being stored there while they find a new home!  


A few weeks ago I was afforded the rare opportunity to explore one of Philadelphia’s recently abandoned public schools. Invited by a refreshingly imaginative individual who is passionate about creating more opportunities for Philly neighborhoods, I took a look at the current state of South Philly’s Edward W. Bok School and discussed its potentially very exciting future.

Forget the politics of Philadelphia merging a number of public schools around the city and selling the buildings that are left behind to help make up for some heartbreaking school budget deficits. How do we make the best of it now that it’s happened? Well, one local visionary, Lindsey Scannapieco, along with her team of young, enthusiastic urban designers and strategy makers at Scout has a particularly inspiring plan for the recently abandoned Edward W. Bok School building, a gigantic complex sitting between 8th and 9th streets from Mifflin to Dudley in South Philly.

Here’s a little more about Lindsey and this project from Next City:

“Developer Lindsey Scannapieco, a 2014 Next City Vanguard member, is bringing her background in planning, real estate and design to create a space focused on design, entrepreneurship and fabrication. Her company, Scout LLC, was chosen by Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) and the School Reform Commission (SRC) to redevelop the Edward W. Bok School building after a competitive open auction process. The closed school is one of nearly two dozen that the school district is trying to offload as it copes with a deficit of more than $80 million and Scannapieco’s project supports the hope that Philadelphia’s schools can be reinvented.” 

Long story short, Lindsey and her company are trying to transform this vacant school into a one-of-a-kind maker, creative hub for Philadelphia. It will combine workshops, co-working and residential under one roof (something that is rarely done in the US, according to Lindsey.) They will also pay homage to the namesake Edward Bok as they are preserving the Bok name (Building Bok is the working title — but it will most likely just be referred to as “Bok,”) and will be commissioning a series of interventions / design moments in reference to his history and the memories within the school.

So what does the school look like today? You HAVE got to see the views from the top floors of this incredible building… 


Find more explorations into Abandoned Philadelphia HERE!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Maria Beddia permalink
    October 14, 2014 3:05 pm

    Just curious where theoney is coming from. Who is finding this huge project?

  2. Maria Beddia permalink
    October 14, 2014 3:06 pm

    Sorry about autocorrect. Who is funding this huge project?

    • PRBurgoyne permalink
      October 28, 2014 11:21 am

      Probably related to Tom — high end center city condo developer

  3. October 19, 2014 7:13 am

    So glad they’re renovating & repurposing instead of tearing down!


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