Germantown Friends School, Field House

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1 / 10 – Photo credit: Nic Lehoux
“Located on a prominent corner of the historic Germantown Friends School campus, the Field House reflects the Quaker educational values of simplicity as well as social and environmental sensitivity. It takes its place quietly in a residential neighborhood, fitting in through a design that breaks down its double-height scale just below the centerline. The result is a series of elegant accommodations to the corner location and adjacent buildings.”



Friends Schools are founded on the principles of consensus and simplicity, ideals perfectly suited to the architecture of essentials. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s design responds contextually to the scale, mass and material of its neighbors to give the building its form, while also engaging the landscape, inviting natural light into the interior and integrating local materials in an ecologically sensitive manner.

Focusing on athletic instruction and play for lower and middle school children, the 17,000 square foot million structure provides a multipurpose space that embraces green building technology and sustainable design, while fitting into the sensitive historic fabric of its surroundings. The program includes a large flexible space with basketball courts, volleyball and badminton facilities, and attendant support areas.

The gymnasium’s required bulk is modulated to fit its surroundings: low brick walls contain its central volume, clad in metal to reflect the morning and afternoon sun. A transparent north wall and translucent south wall are shaded by fiberglass and metal awnings that function in concert with the adjacent tree canopy, providing natural light for optimum solar benefit and natural ventilation for low-energy cooling. The building meets the ground with wall planes of brickwork, utilizing joinery, texture and color to complement the adjacent assembly building. The one-story residentially scaled brick walls and the patterned zinc shingles above echo the Victorian walls and mansards common to the neighborhood, allowing the building to take its place quietly among its surroundings.

Project Data

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2000 – 2004
Germantown Friends School
17,000 gsf