The School District of Philadelphia
New West Philadelphia High School
Project Type
Square Footage
Construction Cost
$43 Million

Kelly Maiello led the process

of community engagement and collaboration with five established West Philadelphia neighborhood associations at the outset of this project. Together with the school district, we formed a committee to engage these stakeholders in the process of dialogue from initial concepts to the final design. The committee encouraged the exchange of ideas and made multiple presentations, resulting in a solution that incorporated consensus-driven elements and a building that enhanced the neighborhood.

The school district challenged us to design an urban high school that embodied three guiding principles: an architectural design supportive of the educational program; a school campus that fit into the neighborhood context; and a school building that functioned as an after-hours community center. An additional goal was to create a sustainable design that would meet LEED Silver status. The new three-story building is a comprehensive facility for 900 students in grades 9-12. It provides the appropriate academic environment to support the three “mini-school” curriculums: creative and performing arts, business technology, and urban studies/law.

The exterior of the 170,000-square-foot building is composed of brick, metal panels, and aluminum glazing systems which harmonize with the scale and materials of the neighborhood. The main entrance is at the corner of 49th and Chestnut streets. The courtyard entrance on the west side of the school welcomes students and the community who use the facilities after hours.

Inside, the first floor contains the main administrative space, common spaces and spaces for community use. The upper two floors are made up of classrooms. A yellow glass tile wall at the front entrance signals arrival in the school. The program along the first floor is organized along a “main street” corridor brightened by daylight from skylights. Bright, bold floor tile patterns signal major transition points in circulation within the building, inspired by the quilts of Gees Bend. The finishes on the upper two floors continue the theme established on first floor and with different colors that also identify the three separate academy programs.

The design exceeded its sustainable goal, as the many energy reducing features led to achieving LEED Gold certification. Robert Glick AIA, LEED AP, who was responsible for LEED design said, “This is a better place than a school, it is a facility to share with the neighborhood and it presented a new way to do things with a building and site.”

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wphs maiwes01 corr oblique to rgt
wphs maiwes02 classroom
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wphs maiwph06 cafeteria
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Photo/Image credits:  Halkin | Mason Photography