Grow Collective Friendship

October to December 2013  |  Second-Year Studio I, Fall 2013 Semester

Advised by Mick McNutt, AIA

The Grow Collective Friendship is not a design for a psychedelic hippie spaceship but for a community center, urban farm, and farmers’ market located in Pittsburgh's Friendship neighborhood. Ambitious in scope and scale, the Grow Collective spreads over three lots across two streets: a teaching kitchen, classrooms, and produce store along Penn Avenue; growing beds elevated over existing garages which are retrofitted as stalls for farmers’ markets; and a music and performance canopy that connects to and shades part of the Octopus Community Garden.

Despite its role as a community farm, Grow Collective doesn’t attempt to hide its urban location or Pittsburgh’s industrial history. It is constructed of simple, raw, industrial materials. Its skeleton is consists of precast reinforced concrete pillars and beams. The floors and growing bed trays are unpolished poured-in-place concrete, and the interior and exterior walls are made of clinker bricks. Slits are strategically cut between the growing bed trays to allow daylight down into the farmers’ market stalls.

In spite of its material rawness, the building strives to be welcoming and exemplify the egalitarian principles of its community organization. For example, the growing beds, music canopy, and farmers’ market stalls are always open to the public, and all parts of the Grow Collective are fully accessible to people with limited mobility. The farmers’ market aims to revitalize the streetfront, not take it over and restrict public access. The Grow Collective would host cooking and gardening classes for people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

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