East St. Louis, IL
NBW collaborated with the newly created Jackie Joyner-Kersee Food, Agriculture and Nutrition Innovation Center (JJK FAN) to envision the new JJK FAN Innovation Center in East St. Louis. The mission of the JJK FAN is to provide quality youth and community programs in STEAM+Ag, food production, nutrition, and physical activity in East St. Louis and beyond. The JJK FAN is a public-private partnership between the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois Extension, inspired by Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s life experiences as a youth growing up in East St. Louis, her Olympic career, and her journey as a local community leader.
The JJK FAN partnership commissioned NBW to design an innovative, educational, and inclusive campus that will include indoor and outdoor urban agriculture demonstration sites, dedicated space for youth and community members to engage in hands-on trainings and certification programs related to growing food, agricultural innovation, and nutrition for improving health and performance, and facilities for athletics and physical training. The NBW design vision focuses on youth engagement, athletics, health and nutrition, and economic expansion through metropolitan food production. Athletic, educational, and agricultural spaces are interwoven with the urban fabric of East St. Louis, fostering synergy between the three mission areas and the surrounding community and ecology. The development provides space and programs that instill drive and determination in young people to help them succeed academically and in life by improving health, nutrition and well-being. The landscape and architecture will support programs focused on supporting the youth of East St. Louis and igniting their imagination to the possibilities provided by educational and economic opportunities in food and agricultural enterprises and will provide flexibility for the JJK FAN program and facilities to evolve and grow over time.
By providing youth and community members with avenues for personal and professional growth, the JJK FAN Innovation Center’s goal is to ignite economic empowerment and community development in the region. Through harnessing the expertise of community partners, this project will set the foundation for sustainably expanding youth engagement and community development in nutrition and local food systems within the city of East St. Louis. The JJK FAN vision is to become a nationally recognized innovation center that empowers youth and communities to grow through urban agriculture, food innovation, entrepreneurialism, and career readiness.