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Drexel Student Designs Sustainable Urban Garden for Moore College of Art & Design

Imbesi's courtyard design for Moore

June 20, 2013

A “self-sustaining urban oasis” designed by Alexandria Imbesi, a student in the Interior Architecture + Design graduate degree program in Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was recently implemented at Moore College of Art & Design.

Imbesi’s plans for the revitalization of Moore’s south courtyard included a variety of seating options and raised gardens featuring herbs, evergreen perennials and ornamental grasses.

The sustainable design utilizes 100 percent repurposed lumber, and incorporates a downspout collector, which can be used to water the garden, and a trash/recycling station.

“I grew up on a farm and wanted to bring some of that sensibility to the city,” said Imbesi. “Growing up, it was always essential not to let things go to waste. In that spirit, I wanted to reuse as much material as possible. All of the lumber used in the courtyard was re-purposed from fencing."


The installation took place on June 1 and was completed in one day. According to Imbesi, the structure was built off-site, disassembled and then reassembled on-site. Students from Moore worked with Imbesi to build and install her design.


Imbesi said that her experiences at Drexel were essential for preparing her for this undertaking.

Imbesi's design for Moore courtyard

“I started the construction phase of the project this spring as I was taking a construction documentation course,” said Imbesi. “I had the opportunity to apply everything I was learning to the project. I also developed a deeper understanding of just how important construction drawings are to communicating with the builders to create the final product.”

According to Debra Ruben, director of Drexel’s interior design program, “At Drexel, all Interior Architecture + Design master’s degree candidates are required to find and enter at least one competition while they are studying at Drexel. Many of our talented students win or place in competitions, but it is not often that students have the opportunity to realize their design in full scale.

"It’s very rewarding for us as faculty to see our students implementing all they are learning in the classroom to a real world project.”

Imbesi courtyard design for MooreImbesi’s design was based on her winning submission for Moore’s network: Designing Green event last fall, which sought parklet – or small urban park – designs to occupy parking spaces on Race Street between 20th Street and the Parkway. The network: Designing Green event, which was hosted by The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design, welcomed the region's emerging artists and designers at the forefront of Philadelphia's urban design and green movements. 

Four teams of designers were chosen to construct the parklets on Race Street. In addition to Imbesi, two additional designs by Drexel students were also selected for implementation and included team members Katie McHugh and Megan Mitchell, and Missy Halberstadt, Anne Lapins, Megan Place and Kristen Stephen, all students in Drexel’s Interior Architecture + Design graduate program, as well as Seqouyah Hunter-Cuyjet, a graduate student in interior design at Moore.

Media Contact

Alex McKechnie