Projects | K-12 | Finding a Building that Reflects Its Culture

Finding a Building that Reflects Its Culture

Freire Charter Schools
  • Renovation
  • Philadelphia, PA / Wilmington, DE
  • 140,000 SF/ Three Schools
For Freire Charter School’s most recent project, TECH Freire - a school focused on STEM based learning - it made sense for its new location to be in a former showroom and storage facility for Packard Motor Car Company. NorthStar was integral in site selection and was fully involved in the school’s Charter application. Our team’s experience in adaptive reuse of historic buildings came into play as our team was successful in finding creative ways to employ the architectural program.

The ultimate goal was to create a modern school where 21st century high school children could thrive, but also be immersed by the history of the 100+ year old building. Rather than build over what was in place, the design team used the elements which already existed as inspiration.

To achieve the objective of preserving the historical building and readying it for its’ new use for TECH Freire, some of NorthStar’s work included transforming the auto-freight elevator into egress stairs within the shaft walls, incorporating an existing skylight into the new design, and creating a singular, central corridor that allows natural light to fill the hall.

The transformation of this, the Donegal Building, played an important role in the steady revitalization of North Broad Street and allowed for that section of the city to connect to Temple University, the up-and-coming art and technology hub of Philadelphia.