Commodore John Barry Elementary School

Distinguished Building Award Submission

The new Barry School in West Philadelphia was constructed in a residential neighborhood of 2 story brick row houses.

The four story solution, unusual for elementary education, provided over 40% of the 43,000 sf site as outdoor play space.

Conceptually, the design consists of three horizontal zones. The base zone: the lobby, cafetorium and administrative offices, creates a public commons for the students and the community. Pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and special needs classrooms are on grade.

The middle zone contains two identical floors with 1-8 grade classrooms around a two story Gymnasium creating “small schools within a school” or grade related instructional clusters.

A roof level “learning garden” has special spaces for all students. Art, music, science, computer, vocational classrooms, and the library include outdoor decks for hands-on learning experiences.

Glazed brick is used at grade for durability. The metal wall panel system creates a high performance building enclosure while minimizing construction time. Wire mesh enclosures give the roof gardens an open and inviting feel.

The school received a LEED Gold Certification. Sustainable features include porous paving, gray water capture and reuse, outdoor views for 95% and day light harvest for 90% of occupied spaces.

Ross Barney Architects
Associate Architect
The Sheward Partnership
School District of Philadelphia
  • CSA
General contractor
Daniel J. Keating Company
Philadelphia, PA