Expanding Our Campus to 1520 Race Street


Friends Select’s new upper school STEAM Building and recently transformed Parkway Building reflect our commitments to excellence in teaching and learning, our community, and the city of Philadelphia. Across over 300 years of history, Friends Select’s triumphs and challenges have mirrored the city’s. As the city and its makeup have changed, so too has the school, growing more diverse and reflective of the city it calls home. And as Friends Select graduates have gone on to positions of civic and academic leadership in Philadelphia and around the world, they have brought the school’s fundamental testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship to their endeavors. Just as they have affected the world around them, Friends Select has continued its quiet but profound impact on Philadelphia. 

The Advance Friends Select: Transformation Campaign is creating physical spaces that embody these Quaker values, providing the financial underpinning that ensures the school can continue building a diverse, inclusive, and nurturing community for generations to come. Friends Select’s newly transformed STEAM Building and Parkway Building were:

  • Designed by James Bradberry Architects and working with Anchor Management Group. 
  • Created with input from many Friends Select faculty and staff members, who were heavily involved in the design process.
  • Built with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as well as sustainability. 
  • Created to enable the school to radically transform our learning environment, but the values that undergird that education remain the same as they have been for centuries, and those driving principles will shape the next generation of Friends Select graduates. 

With its Transformation Campaign, Friends Select is lifting up the Ben Franklin Parkway, along with the community of educators, scholars, and leaders who call it home to reflect an accessible educational space located in the heart of the city. This will enhance the educational experience for Friends Select students, and it expands the definition of what it means to be a learning institution that is in the city and of the city. 

Friends Select's New Upper School STEAM Building


For the first time in Friends Select’s history, the school expanded its campus in Center City Philadelphia, converting a historic brick townhome at 1520 Race Street into the upper school’s center for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). With four floors and 15,000 square feet for classrooms, laboratories, and studios, Friends Select’s STEAM Building was completed prior to the start of the 2022-23 school year. 

The upper school STEAM Building is directly adjacent to the Race Street Meetinghouse and Friends Center— the home of the Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, one of the two governing bodies of Friends Select. The STEAM Building enables Friends Select to extend the ways we utilize our great city as a campus, deepen our Quaker roots and values, and add much-needed space for upper school classrooms to meet students’ growing interests in science and art disciplines. 

The upper school STEAM Building:

  • Provides four floors and more than 15,000 square feet of space for three modern science laboratories, two visual arts studios, one digital design lab, and five additional upper school classrooms—empowering our students to pursue advanced STEAM projects as they prepare to become the innovators of tomorrow.
  • Creates community gathering spaces, meeting spaces for students and faculty, and upper school administrative offices.
  • Expands Friends Select’s campus in Center City, and allows us to further our ability to leverage external partnerships to meet teaching and learning goals. 
  • Renovates a registered historic property while preserving the building’s facade and historic integrity, in a manner that continues the school’s commitments to DEI and sustainability.

Friends Select’s STEAM Building, as well as the revitalization of our Parkway Building, support our vision of a school that — through its role and reputation as a renowned Center City institution — strengthens cross-cultural connections and reach through academic programming and global experiences, and leverages reciprocal partnerships to enhance educational, financial, and facility goals. Read more about the new STEAM Building in Select News.

For more information about supporting the Advance Friends Select: Transformation Campaign, please contact Christine Jefferson, chief development officer, at chrisj@friends-select.org, or 215.561.5900, x3141.

Rooftop Athletic Field Upgrade

Friends Select School has upgraded the rooftop athletic field, as part of the Advance Friends Select: Transformation Campaign. The renovated rooftop field brings our community together, not just for sports events, but for outdoor gatherings as well.

Upgrades include:

  • A 50,000-square-foot synthetic turf field for athletics, recreation, and outdoor programming and events
  • An underlayment “shock” pad to significantly enhance safety 
  • Environmentally-friendly organic infills (instead of synthetic rubber pellets) 
  • Additional safety pads
  • Equipment guards
  • Spectator seating
  • PanaView®, multi-sport, wireless scoreboard

Additional upgrades to the rooftop field are currently being considered, given the importance of this space for the Friends Select community. Read more about the history of Friends Select’s rooftop athletic field in Select News.

Parkway Building Transformation

Parkway Building Transformation

In September 2021, Friends Select unveiled our Parkway Building's dynamic new learning spaces, as part of the Advance Friends Select: Transformation Campaign. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration, speakers included Friends Select head of school Michael Gary, board of trustees clerk Ingrid Lakey ’89, P’27, student body leaders Margot Schneider ’22 and Nadia Sumner ’22, and City Councilmember Helen Gym, with special guest, city representative Sheila Hess.

The Parkway Building’s first floor transformation:

  • Creates four new lower school classrooms and a new lower school art studio.
  • Provides a significantly larger, updated lobby space at the front entrance of the building to offer an inviting community space.
  • Creates a front office suite for the head of school and admission department, as well as an admission lobby to welcome prospective students and their families.
  • Updates the Race Street Circle as an entrance and meeting space.
  • Continues the school’s commitments to DEI and sustainability goals.
  • Enhances the school’s accessibility and overall visibility.
  • Creates facilities that mirror and support the high quality programs we offer to students.

Read more about the impact the Parkway Building’s newly transformed spaces have had on student learning in Select News.

First Floor Transformation

First Floor Transformation

Ribbon-Cutting Celebration

Parkway Building Ribbon-Cutting Celebration

Parkway Building Open House

Parkway Building Open House for Friends Select Families

"Giving out of conviction requires taking a leap of faith to support what you believe in. I believe in the impact that the Advance Friends Select: Transformation Campaign and these new learning spaces will have on generations of Friends Select students."

Liz Widdicombe P’18, ’22

Pictured are Liz with her children and brothers in front of the Race Street Meetinghouse. Left to right: Toby, Denis ’18, Fred Tubula ’18 (rear), Annie (front), Liz, Stefan ’22, and Gerry. Fred was a Friends Select international student from Kenya and has resided with the Widdicombe family since attending the school.