Novitiate Building

Sisters of Saint Joseph | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The original concept of open dormitories and gang bathrooms fit a 19th century perspective on religious life but not current expectations. The historic Novitiate House was redesigned  in a phased renovation  to address the current needs of its residents, who are retired members of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

In addressing the renovation, VMA sought the specific goals of aligning the building performance with modern standards, optimizing previously under-utilized spaces, and providing a more consistent level of amenities. 

VMA re-organized the first floor to provide office space, a conference room, and a formal parlor, while the upper three floors were converted into four residential “communities” and a guest suite. Community sizes range from five to seven bedrooms, plus a guest room. Each includes a private bathroom, a gathering space, kitchen/dining space, and laundry facilities. Bedrooms were organized according to existing window openings to provide each room with a view and ample daylight. Shared spaces, such as a chapel, projects room, exercise room, and archives were interspersed among the residential community floors.

The building’s primary facades were left largely untouched, but a rear porch was restored to its original appearance. The building’s insulation and HVAC systems were updated for optimal efficiency. Finally, the existing elevator was rebuilt, creating  accessible routes to all floors.

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Size: 37,000 sf
Budget: $6.9 million


Architecture, Interior Design, Historical Preservation, Planning

Novitiate Building

Sisters of Saint Joseph | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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