Frankford Friends School has hired the architecture firm DIGSAU to design a new Middle School facility on its historic property in Frankford.
“We are extremely excited to have a partner like DIGSAU,” said Joe Hohenstein, Clerk of the FFS School Committee, a Frankford resident, and himself a graduate of the school. “They really ‘get’ what Quaker education is all about and value stewardship as much as we do.”
DIGSAU is an award-winning firm practicing architecture, urbanism, and environmental design. Founded in 2007, the firm is recognized for expertise in the design of high-quality buildings for a diverse client group. Several principals, including architect Jamie Unkefer, were involved in the design of buildings at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., the first secondary school in the country to attain Platinum LEED certification. Unkefer said, “The Friends’ testimony of ‘walking gently on the earth’ is easily connected to sustainable design practices. However, to us, the idea of stewardship extends further toward core Quaker values of simplicity, equality, and peace, all of which should find form in the design of a Quaker building.” They are also working on the Globe Dye Works property in Frankford.
“This year, in rented space, we have begun to achieve our dream of a 6th-8th grade Middle School,” explained Penny Colgan-Davis, Principal of the school. “The program that the three teachers have built is creative and engaging and allows the students to collaborate across the grades in ways we could only imagine in previous years. We look forward to a dedicated science and math lab and flexible teaching spaces.”
With the lowest tuition of any Quaker school in Pennsylvania, Frankford Friends School is known for offering outstanding education to families of modest means. The school has been a key player in the fight to reverse the decline of Frankford, a community struggling to stabilize since the loss of its industrial base decades ago. “The Friends School is the bedrock of this community and a vital partner in turning around Frankford,” said State Representative Tony Payton, Jr., whose district includes Frankford and Olney. “We will not win the fight to save Frankford without great schools, and the Friends School is the best. We’re excited about the selection of DIGSAU, because it moves us one step closer to having a model of innovative green building in the district.”
In addition to uniting the school’s sixth, seventh and eighth grade classrooms on the main campus, plans call for a multipurpose room for before- and after-school care and summer programs, which will also be available to the wider community for meetings and events. A dedicated music room will serve the school’s newly expanded program, which offers strings to students in grades 4 through 8 as well as orchestra, a jazz ensemble, theory, and composition in addition to the hand bells and vocal music traditionally taught at the school.
The building is estimated to cost $2.5 million. It will be constructed in two phases, allowing work on Phase I to begin in the spring of 2010. In keeping with the school’s limited means, the design will combine sustainability with innovative building strategies to enable the project to be completed and operated as economically as possible.
For more information on the school or the building project, please visit www.frankfordfriendsschool.org or call 215-533-5368.