On December 9 th , Rogers Partners joined Drexel University and the School District of Philadelphia to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new facility to house two public schools in West Philadelphia. As a part of a new 14-acre science and technology development on the Drexel Campus, the 87,000 square foot building will co-locate two existing public schools, pairing one of Philadelphia’s most beloved elementary schools, Powel Elementary, with the city’s most recognized innovation school, the Science Leadership Academy Middle School (SLAMS). The design of daily operations informs a unique spatial solution and a model for the co-location of educational institutions – allowing each distinct school to operate autonomously while sharing select spaces and programs with one another and the community.
"With this transformational development, we are a creating a foundation of learning for generations to come, and expanding the vision of innovation and inclusive opportunity for all those in our community,” -- John Fry, Drexel University, President
The two-story school building is nestled into a sloped site, bounded by the residential fabric of Warren Street to the north and the growing University City campus to the west and south. A cultural facility is planned across 36 th Street to the east. The U-shaped building is situated tight to the property line, maintaining the urban streetwall while maximizing the space available for a play yard to the south. A landscaped walk street south of the play yard offers a connection from U-City Square through the site to 36 th Street. The landscape is designed both for play and sustainability, employing an integrated strategy to reduce stormwater runoff and a robust palette of durable, native plants.
“Co-location is a catalyst for collaborative learning. The design for these two schools capitalizes on a unique site geometry in an urban campus setting to produce a stimulating learning environment with generous, light-filled spaces for group study, arts, music, technology, and science."   -- Rob Rogers, Rogers Partners, Partner
With Powel Elementary on the ground floor, and SLAMS above, the repetitive rhythm of classrooms mirrors the rowhouses across Warren Street. Along the west side, specialty spaces such as the library, maker space, music, art, and science classrooms face out toward the growing University City campus. The brick and zinc building is bookended by the two larger-scale spaces that are shared between the schools, and also allow for community use. These spaces are clad in translucent polycarbonate, offering soft, diffuse natural light during the day, and glowing at night. The design leverages the distinctive shape of the site, using the hinge points of the geometry to create a series of unique, sunlit study and collaboration spaces for each institution, tailored to the schools' distinct pedagogies, and connected by two open communicating stairs.
 “It’s been an honor to work with two of Philadelphia’s most loved schools, Powel Elementary and the Science Leadership Academy Middle School, to create a learning environment that supports each school’s unique pedagogy.”  
-- Elizabeth Stoel, Rogers Partners, Associate Partner
Project Team
Drexel University (Client)
Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers (Architecture)
Androgpgon Associates, Ltd. (Landscape Architecture)
BSI Construction, LLC (Construction Management)
Meliora Design (Site / Civil Engineering)
CVM (Structural Engineering)
WFT Engineering (MEP/FP Engineering)
Shen Milsom & Wilke (AV/IT/Security)
CVMNEXT Construction (Cost Estimating)
Cini-Little (Food Service)
ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers is an award-winning studio of architects, landscape architects, and urban designers. The firm is internationally recognized for engaging the world of design with creativity and rigor, providing design excellence across a wide range of project types, including cultural and academic buildings, mixed-use and commercial spaces, independent K-12 schools, public realm designs, and multifamily housing. Designing from offices in New York City and Houston, Rogers Partners embraces a new approach to the challenges facing cities today by reimagining the role architects play in shaping institutions and infrastructure.
To learn more about our studios in New York City and Houston, please reach out to Amy Stroud (astroud@rogersarchitects.com). For weekly updates, we hope you will follow us on social media and stay tuned to our website. 
Architects+Urban Designers