Charter High School for Architecture + Design opened its doors in September 1999 to about 400 students in grades 9 through 11.The first architecture charter high school in the nation, this Legacy Project of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is the outgrowth of a collaboration between AIA Philadelphia and a group of creative educators. It is a tuition-free, independent, public school of choice. The General Building Contractors Association (GBCA) and over 80 architectural firms are partners of the school, The Industrial Designers Society of America and The American Institute of Arts have officially endorsed the school.
Occupying 54,000 square feet in a building one block from Independence Hall in Center City Philadelphia, this school provides a more intimate and accessible learning environment than is otherwise available to students in a large urban environment. In addition to the standard core curriculum, the Charter High School for Architecture + Design introduces students to the theories and practices of architecture, design and construction, the building industry and related community issues, integrating them thematically into a rigorous academic high school curriculum. The School will develop in graduates a sensitivity to architecture and design issues and thus significantly expand their career options. Equally importantly, the school will provide outreach to minorities and women in particular to increase the chances of making these fields more representative of the people who live in the city of Philadelphia.
There is broad parental involvement at the school and a creative program of independent studies. Opportunities for after-school and summertime student internships are being developed with architecture firms, contractor’s offices, toy designers, fabric workshops, a public radio and television station, glassblowing and ceramic studios, and community development projects like the Philadelphia Flower Show. As upper-class Independent Study Projects, some students will create architectural histories of major ongoing Philadelphia building projects – such as the Kimmel Performing Arts Center – documenting their design, development and actual construction.
Our teachers are professional educators, practicing architects, designers, and artists. Our goal is to provide educational opportunities for students of all nationalities, religious and cultural backgrounds. Students from throughout Philadelphia attend our school. Our Board of Trustees is comprised of leaders from the architecture and design community as well as parents, educators and community leaders, all committed to the creation of an educational model of excellence and creativity.