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Featured educational projects

Banana Factory Conceptual Renderings

The Banana Factory was conceived in 1998 as a collaborative studio home for artists and an educational facility to bring art closer to young people in South Bethlehem.  Artefact put together a proposal for the renewal and transformation of the former banana distribution warehouse.

Through a series of conceptual renderings, Artefact envisioned a more exciting street presence for the Banana Factory that would proclaim its artistic mission to the general public.  The reimagined facades come alive with light and color and project an aura of magic and wonder.


Armstrong House at Cheyney University

The late 18th century house, located 25 miles west of Philadelphia on the edge of Cheyney’s campus, is a uniquely important building for the university because of its connection to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.  A hidden stair in the basement leads to a sub-basement room that likely sheltered escaping slaves.

Armstrong House had fallen into very poor condition after being abandoned for some time.  The restoration project brought it back to its mid 19th century appearance, removing inappropriate flat-roofed additions and other modern alterations.  Artefact conducted research into the building’s history and and developed the design for restoration while C.F. Portner produced the construction documents.


Lutz-Franklin Schoolhouse Museum

The Lutz-Franklin Schoolhouse that stands today was built in 1880 and served the community as a school from 1880 to 1958. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was determined to be a significant historic property because it possesses authentic characteristics of a 19th century one-room schoolhouse. The fine artisanship of the building, most clearly demonstrated in the pattern of the stone work, was exceptional for its time.

An anonymous donor funded the restoration of the schoolhouse and its conversion into the Lutz-Franklin Schoolhouse Museum.  Artefact created the restoration plans and coordinated the work. Today the schoolhouse is owned and maintained through a partnership between Lower Saucon Township and the Lower Saucon Historical Society.  Students visit the museum to learn about local history.  Many community events, such as History Day, Harvest Festival, picnics and community meetings, are held at the schoolhouse.

Fox Environmental Education Center at Illick’s Mill

Artefact’s interests in historic preservation, sustainable architecture, and community projects came together in this collaborative project to restore and renovate a mid-nineteenth century grist mill on the Monocacy Creek. Planning and fund-raising for the project was carried out by a special student program at Liberty High School in Bethlehem, PA. After the successful completion of the renovations, Illick’s Mill Partnership named the center the Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Education Center in honor of a memorable local environmental activist.



The overriding design consideration for the mill was to preserve the character of the historic structure while giving it a new function. The new uses allowed for the preservation of the open quality of the interior space, while discretely accommodating code and accessibility requirements. The center includes a science center in the lowest level, exhibition space on the main level, flexible space for teaching and events on the second floor, and a staff area on the upper mezzanine. An addition is planned for the future and will honor the existing building in proportion and in the choice of stone and timber framing. Transparent glass walls in the addition will reflect the changing use of the mill and satisfy the programmatic need for a nature observation room and bird sanctuary.

Environmental Education Center for the Wildlands Conservancy

The 3,100 square foot education center was designed along sustainable principles to save energy and conserve water and building materials. The green roof is covered with soil and planted with low-maintenance plants.  This feature reduces rainwater run-off and lowers the cost of heating and cooling by providing insulation.



The interior space is divided by a central hallway into classroom space and administrative office space. Folding partitions in the classroom area allow it to function as three separate rooms or one large group space. The administrative area includes a common space with several work stations and file cabinets, a private office, a room for office equipment and supplies, and a kitchen. The lobby and corridor are designed with space for various displays. A large covered front porch functions both as an outdoor classroom and as a staging area for educational forays into the conservancy grounds