New Life for Old Franklinton Building as Symbol of Hope for Struggling Youth
On October 16, M+A Architects project team members, John Eymann, Mark DiRutigliano and Kim Frencho attended the grand opening of the Central Ohio Youth for Christ’s new City Life Center and the Franklinton Preparatory Academy. This project has been a 10 year project for the organization and one that M+A has been working on for more than 4 years.
Central Ohio Youth for Christ (COYFC) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1981. They work with young people from many different and challenging backgrounds and help them make positive life choices. They do this by providing mentoring relationships and providing resources for “at risk” teens to learn life skills and financial literacy. Many of the adolescences they help have come from broken homes and have been exposed to drugs, alcohol abuse, and physical and emotional abuse at home. Youth for Christ is not a church but they introduce the youths to the Lord and provide Christian support to help them hopefully discover a relationship with God.
In 2003, COYFC purchased the old boarded up elementary school at 40 Chicago Avenue in Franklinton. The building was built in 1897, (designed by architect David Riebel, who designed nearly 40 Columbus public schools between 1891 and 1921) but had closed in 1982 and sat vacant for over 30 years. They raised money through capital campaigns and donations and in 2010 came to M+A to begin designing the renovation of the facility. The project has opened in phases since then with the Franklinton Preparatory Academy taking two of the four stories for their public charter school. Last week was the celebration of the final phase opening, which houses their City Life OutReach program.
The City Life OutReach program is an after school program with a mission to positively impact teens, their families and the urban neighborhood. The facility offers areas for training in pottery, glass, textiles, audio-visual, cosmetology and financial literacy. They also have a fitness center where they teach kids the importance of physical activity and nutrition.
On floors two and three resides the Franklinton Preparatory Academy, a public charter school for middle and high school students. In addition to traditional classrooms, the FPA portion of the building houses a science lab, dance studio, art room and blended learning labs. These learning labs offer traditional teacher facilitated learning, online learning, and small group instruction as well as one-on-one teacher/student tutoring.
The fourth floor of the building – the “YFC Loft” is the real jewel of the project. It was previously unused attic space that we converted into a huge open floor plan with 28 foot vaulted ceilings. It includes a Café, a game room with ping-pong, billiards, air hockey and card and board games. There is also a “Creative Corner” where kids can scrapbook, make jewelry, paint and learn calligraphy. A large tv screen is set up in front of a big multi-purpose space where kids can hang out or group events can be held. A study hall / computer lab and the YFC administrative offices complete the fourth floor. After working on the project for more than two years, Mark DiRutigliano really enjoyed seeing how people interacted in the space during the grand opening event. “I watched people’s faces as they got off the elevator on the fourth floor. I could tell those seeing it for the first time by their look of awe.”
This project is truly is a symbol of hope for the Franklinton Community. Not only was this historic property given new life and purpose, but the COYFC organization is a beacon of light for many teens and families in the community. M+A principal, John Eymann who was involved with the project since 2010 said, “It was an honor and a privilege to work on this project with such a great group of people. And to see the old school become a school again is really the amazing thing, mostly because of how it serves and benefits the youth and the families of the neighborhood.”
by Suzanne Cody
Director of Marketing
Before switching to a marketing role, Suzanne worked on projects for M+A and has a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her kids, riding in Pelotonia and eating at Cameron Mitchell restaurants.