Germantown Friends School Field House

Philadelphia, PA
Construction Cost: $4.9 million
Area / Square Feet: 16,800
Occupancy Date: July 2004

The designers of Germantown Friends School’s new field house took an otherwise ordinary space (a gymnasium) and turned it into what one judge referred to as “a wonderful expression of a simple concept.”

First, they intentionally rotated the axis of the taller principal volume toward the sun — a move that, in concert with the liberal use of glass, works to achieve optimal solar benefit. Yet, this strategy also helps the field house mesh with the sensitive fabric of its residential surroundings. The effort is taken one step further with one-story, residentially scaled walls that combine brick with patterned zinc shingles above, echoing the Victorian walls and mansards common to the neighborhood.

Inside, a diversity of materials and textures make for a visually arresting tableau. Natural wood-slatted panels grace two opposing walls, and are juxtaposed against open-ended transparent and translucent walls on the north and south. As one panelist noted, “this is a great little project.”

Judge's Comments

Well designed and detailed, given the entire project is a gym. It appears the architect has addressed the owner’s concerns very well.
— Art Bodwell

A lot going on in a small project. Nice interiors, where daylighting is controlled in a very positive way.
— Philip Laird

The simplicity of form and elegant detailing is the signature of this building. A nice mix of old materials, brick, with newer ones, zinc panels.
— J. Thomas Seymour