Chester County Technical College High School, Brandywine Campus

Downington, Pennsylvania

In an exceptional example of adaptive reuse, two abandoned industrial facilities were transformed into an educational complex that serves both the Chester County Technical College High School (CCTCHS) and Delaware County Community College (DCCC). High school students attend daytime classes; college students attend throughout the day and evening. The new complex houses a ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$128.75CITATIONAdaptive Reuse CitationFEATURED IN2013 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation of specialized vocational-technical classrooms, labs and shops supported by separate high school and college administrative suites, a cafeteria and a fitness center. The new school also is connected to the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) headquarters, enabling shared operations and common-use spaces.

The school and surrounding businesses also reciprocally benefit each other. Students are trained for future work at local companies, and those same companies provide valuable resources to the school.

Programmatically, the two adjacent warehouse buildings are linked by a fitness center addition, creating a courtyard for outdoor activities. Within each of the two building masses, new lobbies organize the layout of the building. The lobbies feature exposed ceiling structure, skylights, pendant lighting, a glass hand-railed ramp, built-in seating and an interesting blend of colors and materials. The resulting atmosphere is well-lighted, attractive and lively, suitable for a 21st-century career and technical school.

The spacious, open warehouses “shells” were a good fit for the programs requiring tall ceiling spaces, such as the cafeteria and the automotive repair, carpentry and HVAC shops. Also, new lighting, ductwork and other infrastructure were constructed easily within the existing structure. Reusing the existing structure facilitated green construction practices by reducing the need for new materials from natural resources and thus achieving a significant savings. 

“This adaptive reuse is a smart and responsible approach to abandoned property.”