Neighborhood Schools Reuse Concept

Neighborhood Schools Reuse Concept Rendering by Studio Gang

Memphis, TN

Completed 2018

Neighborhood Preservation Inc. and Klondike Smokey City Community Development Corporation

Educational, Civic, Cultural, Office

24 acres


The Neighborhood Schools Reuse Concept proposes how two closed public schools in North Memphis can be repurposed into hubs of educational and economic opportunity for all ages that support inclusive community development.

The Concept positions Northside High School and Klondike Elementary as the cornerstones of a 24-acre “community campus” that ties together and expands on nearby public assets, helping community members leverage their neighborhoods' existing strengths to power their future.

Created in partnership with neighborhood organizations and residents, the Concept was presented to Shelby County and City of Memphis officials to help guide the development of the city’s school system and new comprehensive plan.

Beyond Memphis, the Concept's practices and principles—which take an incremental approach to inclusive growth—provide relevant ideas for other communities facing school closure and related challenges. To download the full proposal, please click here.

Neighborhood Schools Reuse Concept Community Meeting by Studio Gang
Neighborhood Schools Reuse Concept Site Axonometric Diagram

The specific strengths of both schools drove the concept for their reuse.

Northside High School, once a popular technical school, is repurposed as an employment resource center that houses job- and skills-training programs, a library, small-scale manufacturing space, and an incubator for local entrepreneurs and artists.

The adjacent Klondike Elementary draws on the success of its current charter preschool to become a hub for early learning, with additional classrooms repurposed as office space for local nonprofits and small businesses as well as a neighborhood café.

Neighborhood Schools Reuse Concept Makerspace by Studio Gang

Northside High School's expansive gymnasium is re-envisioned as a space for fabrication and small-scale manufacturing.

Neighborhood Schools Reuse Concept Library Interior by Studio Gang

To help Northside High School become a one-stop hub for entrepreneurs, job seekers, and current employees or small-business owner looking to further their skills, a business resources library serving adults and youth is proposed for the center of the building.

Neighborhood Schools Reuse Concept Classroom Diagram

Klondike Elementary classrooms can be reused in a variety of ways that support North Memphians' community needs and goals.

The plan also proposes how investing in the public assets surrounding the schools can lead to a thriving community campus. At North Branch Library, new outdoor learning areas and gardens and a co-op commercial kitchen expand opportunities for experiential learning. In the northeast portion of the site, Klondike Park becomes a center for wellness and recreation with upgraded athletic fields, gathering spaces, and a new Play Path that connects it with the neighboring community center and public pool.

Neighborhood Schools Reuse Concept Library Exterior by Studio Gang

North Branch Library gains new safe spaces for outdoor learning, gardening, and community events.

Consultant Team

Community LIFT, community development and organizing specialist

Washington Park Development Group, sustainable urban development specialist

Mickey Fearn Consulting, community engagement specialist

James Lima Planning + Development, economic and placemaking specialist