KSS Celebrates 2024 Preservation Achievement Award

June 10, 2024

KSS Architects is honored to announce the acceptance of the Grand Jury Award at the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s 2024 Preservation Achievement Awards.

The awards ceremony commenced on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. The project’s creative team was represented by Mayva Donnon, Beth Emig, and Vincent Dimaria, who accepted the award on the firm’s behalf for the restoration of the John Greenleaf Whittier School to become the new home of KIPP Philadelphia Preparatory Academy, a public charter school.

Completed in 2023, the KIPP Philadelphia Preparatory Academy was a multi-phase renovation project intended to develop an exciting and inspiring learning environment. KSS facilitated the adaptive reuse of this historic light industrial building by highlighting its beauty while incorporating modern building systems and features. When KIPP Philadelphia identified the Whittier School as the new home for its flagship middle school operation in the city, great care was taken to ensure the building’s heritage was maintained while still accommodating the needs of evolving learning styles.

The overall goal of the restoration was to preserve the identity of the school and maintain the existing urban fabric of the community, setting a new standard for students in the KIPP system. Several existing features of the building were revitalized to honor the building’s legacy, including wood flooring, glazed brick walls, paneled wooden pocket doors, and glazed brick windowsills. The original entrance on the north façade—which had been closed and bricked over by the School District—was reopened, reorienting the school to greet the neighborhood. The main stairwell was restored with several marble treads replaced with replicas. New building systems were installed to ensure user health and safety while improving energy efficiency and user comfort. The full window replacement also doubles as a performance enhancement, improving envelope performance while offering access to daylight, views, and fresh air.

The restoration of KIPP Philadelphia Preparatory Academy is a shining beacon for others looking to revitalize overlooked communities and makes this award a distinguished acknowledgment of the commitment to develop sustainable and equitable growth in areas with a significant need. KSS Architects was honored to collaborate with KIPP Philadelphia to revitalize this school and contribute to an investment in the future and vitality of the Tioga community in Philadelphia.

The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia is a membership-based, non-profit organization that advocates for the appreciation, protection, and appropriate use and development of historic buildings, communities and landscapes in Philadelphia and the surrounding region. Through educational outreach, planning efforts, and direct advocacy, the Preservation Alliance has been the region’s primary champion of our historic built environment since 1979. Preservationalliance.com