Architecture High School at One
by Diane M. Fiske
One day last October, four public high school students worked with four interior designers from morning till evening in an office in center-city Philadelphia. They were designing a new seminar space.
Each teenager teamed with a designer. At the end of the day, the students coordinated their efforts with that of the others. Later that month, their ideas became a reality.
In November, another group of students and their teachers traveled to New York to meet with master architect Rafael Vinoly. In his studio, they listened to Vinoly discuss some of the process that led him to the design of the Regional Performing Arts Center now under construction in Philadelphia.
In the aftermath of this field trip, four of the students are monitoring, as an independent project, the construction of the arts center that is scheduled for completion next year.
All eight of these students are enrolled at the Architecture + Design Charter High School, popularly known as CHAD, the first charter high school of its kind in the country.
The school is located in the historic (high-rent, high-tourist) Philadelphia, a half block from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Enrolled are 310 public high school students who were selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. The school does not have the competitive application process required by Philadelphia's nine magnet, preparatory schools.
CHAD student Ronnie Grissom presents her work.
Photo: Barbara Allen
The Architecture + Design Charter High School occupies a former office building in historic downtown Philadelphia.
Photo: Roger Allen
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