The School District of Philadelphia
New West Philadelphia High School
Project Type

Kelly/Maiello led the process of community engagement/collaboration

that involved 5 established neighborhood associations within the school’s catchment area predominantly. KM and the School District formed a committee where engaged in process of dialogue, exchange of ideas and presentations by KM throughout the design process from program to an agreed upon design by all, one that was fulfilling to the neighborhood and KM.

The School of Philadelphia’s new West Philadelphia High School is located at the corner of 49th & Chestnut Streets, the School District challenged Kelly/Maiello to design an urban high school to embody 3 guiding principles and meet one additional goal; architectural design to support education program, school building campus that fit into the neighborhood context, a school building that functions as an after-hours community center, and sustainable design to meet LEED Silver Status.

The new three-story building is a comprehensive facility for 900 students, grades 9-12. It provides the appropriate academic environment to support the education program; in this case three mini-school curriculum of Creative and Performing Arts, Business Technology, and Urban Studies/Law.

The exterior of the 170,000 SF building is composed of brick, metal panel, and aluminum glazing systems are in keeping with the scale and materials of the neighborhood context. 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 includes main administrative space, common spaces, and those for community use. Classroom bars are on upper two floors. A living 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 patterns in 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/ identify the three separate academy programs.

The many energy reducing features in the school have led to its achieving LEED Gold Certification. Robert Glick AIA, LEED AP responsible for LEED design for the school said, “better place than a school, to share with the neighborhood, a new way to do things in this case with a building and site.”

wphs maiwes03 gymn oblique
wphs maiwph16 ext main entry elev cropped edit2
wphs maiwes01 corr oblique to rgt
wphs maiwes02 classroom
wphs maiwes04 science lab
wphs maiwph06 cafeteria
wphs maiwph10 perf theatre axial
wphs maiwph11 main entry skylight oblique
wphs maiwph18 ext back entry gate

Photo/Image credits:  Halkin | Mason Photography