The Landscape Architecture Foundation Reviews the Arthur Schoolyard

The Chester Arthur Schoolyard Case Study has been published by the Landscape Architecture Foundation. The case study involved a Pre-Construction Site Assessment in 2016, a Post-Construction Site Assessment in 2017, both done by our landscape architect, SALT, and then data evaluation, analysis and presentation. We've been told the Landscape Architecture Foundation has a rigorous review process for their Case Studies and so it's an accomplishment to be approved by the organization. This work was funded by the William Penn Foundation grant that we secured for the Schoolyard.  


Chester Arthur School is a public K-12 school in the densely populated Graduate Hospital neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pre-construction, the schoolyard was almost entirely asphalt, offered little physical or intellectual stimulation to students, and released 99% of its stormwater runoff directly into Philadelphia’s combined sewer system. The renovation transformed a hardscaped site into a green and vibrant open space for the school and surrounding community. The new schoolyard design incorporates the school’s fledgling STEM curriculum into outdoor, interactive learning. The site combines Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) with educational elements and recreational features. Weaving together play, education, and environment, the renovated schoolyard creates a robust, energetic, and meaningful neighborhood center. Post-renovation, the schoolyard is quieter, more verdant, offers habitat for neighborhood wildlife, and encourages much higher usage and activity levels on site by students and neighborhood residents. Chester Arthur’s beloved schoolyard demonstrates that landscape architecture can be an effective agent for change in an urban school environment. 


Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Reduces overall average surface temperatures by 7.2° F.
  • Manages 28,000 gallons of stormwater for every 1.5 in of rainfall over a 24-hour period.
  • Increased number of individuals on site among birds, insects and mammals by approximately 266%.


  • Reduces average noise levels from 87 decibels to 81.5 decibels, achieving a clearly noticeable change.
  • Increases site usage by 128% during school hours and increases community use of the site after school and on weekends by 157%.
  • Doubles physical activity levels in students for both boys and girls. Increases vigorous activity for girls by 160% and boys by 80%.