PZS Architects designed the Trujillo Center as a multipurpose educational building. Located on an abandoned industrial site across the street from its headquarters and adjacent to its job training facility, Congreso de Latinos Unidos saw this project as an opportunity to expand its physical as well as social presence in the community. Congreso saw this building as an opportunity to house organizations, which benefit several segments of the Latino population in a single facility. The center is the home to the Pan American Academy Charter School, a bilingual charter school serving students K-8, and Harcum College at Congreso. The building also houses a counseling suite that strengthens health and family conditions in the Latino community.
The “L” shaped lot that was available for development afforded opportunities and constraints for the school. In an area with few playgrounds there was a desire to maximize the amount of open space on the site for the students’ use as well as neighborhood children after hours. The two wings of the building follow Cambria and N. American streets creating two south facing play areas, one for older students, housing basketball and volleyball courts, and another with a play area for younger students and an outdoor classroom accessible to the entire school.
The 60,000sf building includes 27 classrooms, a computer lab, a science lab, a library and an art studio, and a music room. The facility also boasts a state-of-the-art Instructional Media Center, a 300-seat cafetorium with a small commercial kitchen and administrative offices for Congreso and Harcum College.
The center was designed with two entrances to accommodate the vast age range of students. Older students enter the through the two story lobby accessed from North American Street. Kindergarten students enter through a separate entrance accessed from the courtyard. The Cambria Street wing holds the administrative and counseling suites, kindergarten rooms, ESL and special education rooms. The N. American Street wing contains the music classroom, kitchen and cafetorium.
The three-story wing includes administration and kindergarten classrooms on the first floor and classrooms for older students on the second and third floors. The two-story blue form contains the school’s art classroom and technology center on the second floor and the Library on the third floor. The lower wing houses a music classroom and a combination auditorium/cafeteria with additional classrooms above.
The building’s materials reflect the reality of trying to maximize academic spaces on a limited budget and alludes to the areas industrial legacy. Contrasting colors and materials are used throughout to energize the interior spaces and create depth on the façade.