A.J. Morrison School has suffered from overcrowding and was forced to hold classes in modular trailers and annex facilities. The lack of space created management problems for administrators and affected the learning experience for students.
The School District of Philadelphia has addressed the overcrowding issues by building new schools. These new schools have FEATURED IN1999 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation the educational experience in certain neighborhoods. However, new schools can be built only where there is available land. At A.J. Morrison, like many schools in an urban setting, space was tight.
The resulting design was achieved by creating two additions that are external to the existing wings of the building, thereby taking a building with an E-shape and converting it into more of an O-shape that is open at one end. The challenge was adding on to the building without constricting air circulation and light to the existing building, while improving egress patterns and meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
It was important to design an addition that would be sensitive to the existing architecture, yet create a sense of a new and contemporary building. Therefore, along the street, the design mimics and reinterprets the existing building by using a similar window pattern, and utilizes materials and shapes that match the existing building. In contrast, the architecture in the courtyard has a different window pattern utilizing more glass and contemporary materials.
The design was able to achieve the goals of creating more classroom space and improved educational classrooms on a limited site in a manner that enhances the original building, while creating a new modern facility.