HomePublic Project Finalist: Chester Arthur Schoolyard

The Excellence in GSI Awards Ceremony (May 23) is the region’s only award that celebrates and elevates green stormwater infrastructure projects and innovations, the triple bottom line (TPL) benefits of a nature-based approach to stormwater management, and the partners who bring these projects to life in the Greater Philadelphia Area. Buy tickets.


On behalf of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN), the GSI Partners will be recognizing excellence in GSI in the following categories: Public, Private, and Innovation. Winning applications will highlight the TPL (environmental, social, and economic) benefits of a green infrastructure approach to stormwater management. 

Congratulations Chester Arthur Schoolyard. 


Established in 1963, the Chester Arthur School currently enrolls 261 K-8 students in Philadelphia’s Graduate Hospital neighborhood. The school’s catchment zone also includes residents who lack access to public green space within a ten-minute walk from their homes.


In 2015, Friends of Chester Arthur (FoCA) commissioned SALT Design Studio (SALT) to design a renovation of the Chester Arthur Schoolyard that implemented green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) and integrated the fledgling STEM curriculum into a schoolyard landscape, while also addressing the bigger issues or place-making, sustainability, and how urban schoolyards can transform learning environments. SALT’s involvement with this project spanned more than two years, from initial design through construction, and included ongoing engagement with multiple stakeholders, and overall project coordination. Initial site investigations revealed that the 90% impervious asphalt schoolyard was ecologically barren, home to minimal wildlife or plants, and contributing nearly all its stormwater as runoff into the combined sewer system.


The schoolyard’s design process focused on an experiential and holistic approach to play and learning, with sustainability as a centerpiece. Site improvements were organized into outdoor “labs” focused on habitat, systems, motion, and energy, enabling teachers to bring STEM initiatives out of the classroom and into the landscape. The rain garden, bioswales, and porous paving in the newly designed parking lot manage all on-site stormwater, allowing children to interact with collected stormwater in various ways.


The Chester Arthur Schoolyard renovation reflects the mission of the school through its landscape, by repositioning the outdoor learning environment as an essential component to an integrated and holistic approach to primary education.


Congratulations to the partners who made this project an example of the kind of nature-based approach to stormwater management that has made the Greater Philadelphia Area a leader in GSI. 


County: Philadelphia
Watershed: Lower Schuylkill River
Planning/Design Team: SALT Design Studio, Cornerstone Consulting Engineers & Architectural, Inc, Ann Rothmann Structural Engineering, and InLand Design
Client: School District of Philadelphia
Construction/Maintenance/Monitoring: Brightline Construction, Philadelphia Water Department, School District of Philadelphia, and University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center. 


Join us on Thursday, May 23, along with the region’s industry professionals, local businesses, developers and property owners, government and non-profit institutions, decision-makers, and academics. It is the networking and celebration event for those in the GSI industry. Buy tickets. (SBN Members receive a discount on tickets.)