Demonstrating Respect to an Underserved Community
Community Legal Services is a nonprofit law firm whose mission is to help low-income Philadelphia residents obtain equal access to justice by providing them with advice and representation in civil legal matters. When CLS outgrew their existing space in North Philadelphia, they purchased a lot in the same neighborhood for a new, larger building. We worked with them to design a building that would enhance the neighborhood, which has suffered from decades of neglect. A major design goal was to create a welcoming facility that improved accessibility and provided a higher level of service for their clients. The new building’s qualities of light, space and openness provide an enjoyable work environment for the attorneys and their clients, while a patterned glass window wall on the front facade provides both transparency and privacy.
"The building has made a wonderful statement about the value of our work, and the respect with which our clients and the community are treated." Amy Hirsch, Managing Attorney, CLS
We designed an efficient U-shaped plan around a central courtyard, which allows daylight and fresh air to enter all occupied areas of the three-story, 20,000 square foot building. A courtyard garden provides a peaceful and secure space for waiting clients and CLS staff. To optimize energy performance, the design employs a highly efficient heating and cooling system, sophisticated lighting controls, and a high-performance building envelope clad with terra cotta and fiber cement rainscreen panels.
Structural Engineer: Keast & Hood;
MEP Engineer: In Posse;
Civil Engineer: Hunt Engineering; Construction Manager: Clemens Construction; Photography: Halkin Mason