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William Way LGBT Community Center plans to upgrade its aging headquarters

Plus: One proposed rendering

The William Way LGBT Community Center is looking to re-envision its headquarters at 1315 Spruce Street.
Courtesy of KSS Architects

After supporting sexual and gender minorities in Philly for the last four decades, the William Way LGBT Community Center is looking to reinvent itself and focus some attention on its aging headquarters.

Recently, William Way partnered with the Community Design Collaborative to enlist the pro bono help of seven local designers. Their goal was to come up with a conceptual design of the center’s headquarters at 1315 Spruce Street that included an expansion and a stronger connection with the building and the street, all while keeping its historic integrity intact.

The Engineers’ Club at 1315-1317 Spruce in 1977.
City of Philadelphia-Department of Records

The 4-story center is located within a corner building that was originally built between 1844-1848 as a series of residential rowhomes. Beginning in the early 1900s, it enjoyed a few decades as the Engineers’ Club, undergoing multiple renovations that ultimately combined two properties into one. The William Way LGBT Community Center purchased the property in 1996.

In an article describing his conceptual design for the center, Vincent DiMaria of KSS Architects wrote that while the center has taken on some simple renovations over the past few years, it ultimately inherited a building that doesn’t allow for much growth. So for their concept, a team of local designers of proposed expanding the building by 40 percent, demolishing the rear wings and putting a 5-story addition in their place.

We’re proposing that the new rear of the building be glazed and open, to provide an inviting connection to the Irving Street alley and a view towards John C. Anderson Apartments — Pennsylvania’s first LGBT-friendly, affordable housing development for people over 62.

A proposed addition to the rear side of the William Way LGBT Community Center.
Rendering by KSS Architects

It’s just one of more than 20 conceptual designs that were proposed for the center. In an e-mail to Curbed Philly, William Way’s executive director Chris Bartlett said that they’re excited for the opportunity to upgrade the space, but haven’t decided on one design. “Using the fascinating and extensive report, we'll be meeting with stakeholders over the upcoming months to plan our next steps, which will include both further planning and feasibility studies.”

“We're confident that many of the recommended elements in the report will be incorporated into our final plan.”