Innovation Diploma is a program within Mount Vernon Presbyterian school, which is centered around user based problem solving, and gives members the opportunity to engage, observe, and empathize with communities outside of our school through in-depth ventures. Revolving around the empowerment of young leaders and innovators to take the steps towards the high-impact work most normally associated with the adult workplace. Part of the participants in this program are currently engaged in a “project” -which we refer to as a venture- to design an outside space for a Whole Foods Development in the Chamblee area.

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Innovation is a land of opportunity for high school students and adults, and with the outlet of Innovation Diploma, both parties are provided the chance to partake in this opportunity.

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The S.J. Collins Enterprise design venture is a clear example of the opportunity to engage, observe, and empathize with communities outside of our school.

Through the main contractor for this project, Mr. Jeff Garrison, a select group of Innovation Diploma Cohort members have found one of their first clients within what we refer to as, “a real world situation”.


(S.J. Collins Whole Foods Development site above, outlined in light green on the intersection of Peachtree Crossing and Peachtree Boulevard as they merge into 141, and to the right of the intersection between Johnson Ferry and Peachtree Boulevard.)



(Above, the sight plan of the Whole Foods Development.)

We were tasked with the design of an outside area within the soon-to-be Whole Foods development off of Peachtree Crossing. 

As part of this venture, a team of 12 -including the two facilitators- have started from the very bottom to sift through and dig into how to design a functional and purposeful space.

“To fill these demands you can’t simply sit behind a desk, behind a computer. You have to get out there. In order to see what a need is, what a feeling is built from, what draws people in, you have to experience it for yourself.”

We have explored parks both virtually, and in person, taking notes, pictures, and the over all feeling of the space back to the drawing board with us. But we didn’t stop there. Our specified user, picked out by the client and his team, is a 40 year old mother of two. Of course, no one on this team knows what it is like to be a 40 year old mother of two, let alone a 40 year old mother of two that lives in the Chamblee area and shops at Whole Foods. Therefore, the best way to build an effective and impressionable space is to interview others.

Whole Foods

The team has been fervently working on interviewing Chamblee residents, collecting notes and pictures, brainstorming, visiting all different kinds of parks and developments, and working on visual and physical prototypes of the space.



For more projects like this, check out the MVIFI website!



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