Founded by the Sisters of St. Casimir in the 1930s, Villa Joseph Marie High School has evolved from a combined religious retreat house and school for girls to a premier college preparatory school for young women.

As the secondary school broadened its enrollment, it called on Lighthouse Architecture to plan the adaptive reuse of part of the 1957 building from a skilled nursing facility into classroom space.

Principal architect and Lighthouse founder Peter Porretta led the Philadelphia architecture firm in developing a “simple and efficient” design that would support Villa Joseph Marie’s academic mission.

“The challenge was to work in the geometry of the space – low ceilings and narrow dimensions between the existing walls,” says Porretta.

“We used a single load corridor design parti that resulted in corridors bathed in daylight, which the students love.”

The Lighthouse team also engineered new building systems for the educational environment.

“We took a sound concrete structure, with a brick façade, and worked to accommodate Villa’s growing enrollment in support of their educational mission,” Porretta summarizes.

Client Testimonial

Armand Adams 
Facility Manager – Villa Joseph Marie High School

Working with Peter Porretta and his team was a good experience. He is knowledgeable of our building’s structure and understands how a school runs. That worked to our benefit. 

Because we can only build in the summer, Pete put everything together well. He got us through a strict approval process and we were able to start on time. 

Our project ran smoothly, with Peter handling any issues that came up. 
He has since helped us through three projects. The work that Peter has done for us has been extraordinary.

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