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In Memory of Emanuel Kelly, FAIA

Emmanuel Kelly

February 26, 2024

Today, we fondly remember and pay tribute to Emanuel Kelly, FAIA, a distinguished Philadelphia architect and founding partner of Kelly Maiello Architects, who passed away in January at the age of 80. He was not only a West Philadelphia native but also a graduate of Drexel University’s Part-time Evening Architecture Program. Throughout his life, he dedicated himself to architecture, education, leadership, and community advocacy, leaving an indelible mark on the city and our profession.

Known affectionately as Kelly, his last visit to Drexel’s campus before the pandemic epitomized his kindness, generosity, and commitment to nurturing the next generation of architects. During this visit, he engaged with minority students, sharing his insights as a Black Architect and experiences as a trailblazer in design and community advocacy. The dialogue focused on creating opportunities for aspiring architects of color, developing their voices, and advocating for social and environmental justice in the built environment—a cause close to Kelly's heart.

Emanuel Kelly's legacy of kindness and mentorship shone brightly when, after the event, he took the time to support a shy student seeking her first internship. Despite his firm not hiring at the time, he invited her for portfolio advice—an act that profoundly impacted her professional journey. Kelly’s dedication to paving the way for future architects serves as a beacon of inspiration for all, urging them to excel, innovate, and positively impact their communities through advocacy and architecture.

Drexel University’s Architecture Program extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Emanuel Kelly. He touched many lives and will be missed deeply.

A celebration of Emanuel Kelly’s life will be held at Drexel University’s Main Building, 3141 Chestnut Street on February 26 from 3:00 with a reception from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Kelly Maiello Architect’s website as well as the Philadelphia Inquirer obituary and last year’s inspiring interview by the University City Historical Society (Part 1, Part 2) provide further insight into Emanuel Kelly’s architectural contributions and legacy.

Dr. Ulrike Altenmüller-Lewis, AIA, NOMA
Department Head, Architecture, Design & Urbanism

Alan Greenberger, FAIA
Vice President for Real Estate & Facilities