In this issue, we explore Women + Design by highlighting women designers, how design impacts women, and how equity, diversity, and inclusion learnings can improve the profession and the built environment. 

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August 26, 2020
Chapter News

“The President’s House” by Kelly/Maiello Architects

By Sophia Lee | Urban Design Committee
The President’s House. Photo by Sophia Lee

Beginning with this blog post, we will be sharing stories of urban spaces around Philadelphia that are important to Black History or otherwise feature and celebrate Black Lives.

“The President’s House, Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation” is a landmark at 6th and Market Streets where Presidents George Washington and John Adams lived from 1780 to 1800. The architect, chosen from a national design competition, is local Philly architecture firm Kelly/Maiello Architects, a nationally recognized minority owned business led by Emanuel Kelly, FAIA, its co-founder.

In his words, shared in a WHYY article from 2016: “ ‘If you look at what’s here as a framework with architectural elements, one can begin to imagine being in a house. The windows, they’re just abstractions, and the doorway. The chimneys, fireplaces give some presence. The marble around the fireplace, you can begin to think of it as something interior,’ Kelly explains. But the ‘wow’ factor, he adds, comes from the ability to see the footprint of the original house below ground.”

The project succeeded beyond the controversy it endured during the design process, which included design by committee, in its ability to distill the layers of narrative that may not be as evident upon first glance. It exists to share and bring to light the conflict and problematic origins of this nation, which embraced freedom, yet kept people enslaved from its very beginning. Part of the history one learns during a visit is that President Washington kept nine enslaved people during his residency here.

Read more on Kelly Maiello Architects’ website:

Read more about Emanuel Kelly, FAIA:


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