Strada Architecture LLC

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Female, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ owned

Pittsburgh, PA | Philadelphia, PA | Chapel Hill, NC

Howard Center for the Arts, Roman Catholic High School
Howard Center for the Arts, Roman Catholic High School

Howard Center for the Arts, Roman Catholic High School

From a nondescript warehouse to a light-filled, modern arts facility

The Howard Center is a cutting-edge facility for the visual and performing arts at Roman Catholic High School. It is phase I of a four-phase, $25 million initiative to bring an innovative, 21st-century education to Roman’s students. The center now contains gathering spaces, mixed media classrooms, a piano lab, a digital arts studio for instruction in areas such as photography and videography, a band room and practice rooms, in addition to offices for instructors on the second floor. Parking is on the first floor.

A major component of the design of the new space is the creation of a black box theater. All performing arts, music, choral, and drama programs now practice, perform, and exhibit their artistic works in this intimate setting. The space is also available to local Philadelphia arts groups.

The existing 1940s, two-story warehouse building presented challenges including a low roof structure and ceilings, limited access to natural light, inefficient HVAC systems and the need to accommodate large scale functions within its existing footprint.

The design team decided to flip the initial program from the first to the second floor to help solve the design challenges. With the program on the second floor, the ceiling structure was left exposed to provide greater volumes. The roof of the structure was lifted in several areas to accommodate the theater and band room. Windows were enlarged and skylights added to flood the building with natural light into the rooms and corridors.

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Status: Built
Location: Philadelphia, PA, US
Firm Role: Architect