The Charter High School for Architecture + Design, Philadelphia, known as CHAD, was founded in 1999 by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. CHAD is the first charter high school for architecture and design in the United States. Its unique philosophy “emphasizes the design process across the curriculum as a vehicle for creative and analytical thinking.” Along with traditional high school courses, CHAD offers studio courses in architecture, design, drawing, fashion design, industrial design, and textiles, and in-turn, creatively integrates design principles into the liberal arts curriculum.
The school’s cross-curricular, project-based focus teaches creative problem-solving that nourishes intellectual growth and provides students with practical real-world skills. CHAD teaches students how to learn, how to think, and how to see. Its innovative academic environment “offers each student the opportunity for success and the preparation for life-long learning and responsible citizenship.”
Located in Center City Philadelphia, CHAD is a reflection of the City’s diverse population as students come from more than 50 different zip codes. One of the high school’s founding principles was in response to the “very low percentage of licensed African American architects in the United States.” Its mission was to create a “stimulating high school for urban minority students” and to prepare them “for collegiate study and training in the fields of architecture and design.” They have succeeded. Today, the school’s student population is more than 95% minority-based with a 90-95% college acceptance rate.