Big Class Writers’ Room

Small Center worked with Big Class, a local nonprofit embedded in charter schools to provide creative writing programming, to redesign their current Writers’ Room at Sylvanie Williams College Prep (SWCP). The classroom and storage space was renovated into a dynamic workshop that accommodates the needs of both the Writers’ Room programming and the school, and inspire young people to tell their stories.

Project Dates

January 2017–May 2017


The educational landscape in New Orleans has vastly changed since Hurricane Katrina. The city is served by a decentralized charter school system, and in line with national trends, emphasizes testing. Big Class needs a quality space to conduct its work, allowing students to hone their writing skills and imagination while giving them room to play and grow.

One of Big Class’s largest programs to date, the Writers’ Room at SWCP reaches over 350 students annually, offering pre-K–7th-grade students a safe, quiet place to collaborate with volunteers, write and get feedback, attend writing clubs, and read other students’ published works.

Small Center Engagement

The Writers’ Room redesign provides an enlarged classroom space to accommodate all existing and planned programming, including an expansion to 8th grade in 2017. Small Center designed and built the interior renovation, aiming to create an efficient yet inspirational space that reminds students their voices matter.  Practical uses include Writers’ Room programming, storage for art supplies, hosting professional development sessions for teachers, and occasionally hosting related service-providers like occupational therapy and counseling.

Partner Organization

Big Class works to cultivate and support the voices of New Orleans’ writers ages 6-18 through creative collaborations with schools and communities. In Big Class programs, from the city-wide Pizza Poetry Project to after-school and in-school workshops, young people become published authors with the support of caring mentors, building their arsenal of literacy skills and boosting their confidence in the process.


Big Class was able to reach more students, operate in a space much better suited to its programming needs, and foster a creative spirit that will enhance skill-building and provide a creative respite. To view the completed project booklet, please click here.


Big Class

  • Ashley Teamer
  • Doug Keller
  • Kourtney Morrow
  • Eliza Walker
  • Kyley Pulphus

Sylvanie Williams College Prep

  • Alexis Adams
  • Tyrisha Martin
  • Chris Ramage

Team Members

Project Leads

  • Emilie Taylor Welty (Design Lead)
  • Nick Jenisch (Project Manager)
  • Sue Mobley (Engagement Advisor)


  • Ben Tulman
  • Abdulrahman Alharbi
  • Paula Bechara
  • Camille Bernsten
  • Dia Biagioni
  • Joseph D’Arco
  • X Daminos
  • Andrew Glassman
  • Paul Holmes
  • Arielle Scher
  • Annika Schneider
  • Stephanie Sirhal
  • Sami Tobin
  • Kairui Zhang


  • Shoshana Gordon
  • Maggie Hansen
  • Donn Peabody


  • Johnson Controls, Inc.

Special Thanks

  • Dash Lumber
  • FLOR
  • Michael Wong (Photography)

Press and Awards

Interior Architecture Award of Merit

AIA New Orleans