Neumann Goretti High School, a Catholic college preparatory high school with a diverse student body, came to the Community Design Collaborative to exchange its old-school vibe for a new learning environment that was "welcoming, collaborative, global, and sustainable."
We matched Neumann Goretti with a team of nine design professionals led by KSS Architects that also included skilled volunteers from db-3d, Aterra Solutions, LLC, Gardner Fox Associates, and landscape architectural designer Angela Fleegle. They worked with Neumann Goretti to breathe new life into the spaces that have the most impact on student life: the entrances, cafeteria, and library.
With plan in hand, Neumann Goretti raised $100,000 from its Class of '52. Their donations were used resourcefully to create a new lounge space in the cafeteria with bean bag chairs, bleachers with charging stations, a "Saints" super graphic, and a special zone for games like corn toss. The traditional library swapped much of its shelving for comfy IKEA sofas and round tables to accommodate break-out groups and team projects. Most dramatically, the chain link and barbed wire fence at the school's front entrance were removed to make way for a rain garden.
In a recent Changing Skyline column, Reinventing S. Philly's last Catholic high school with Ikea furniture, murals and a rain garden, Inga Saffron, Architectural Critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote that Neumann Goretti's call to the Collaborative led to "a partnership that has helped the cash-strapped institution make informed decisions about its building and access grants to pay for a series of small but powerful renovations."
Video produced by Mowa Li, University of Pennsylvania. Photos by Joe Pulcinella Photography.