QEA designer Jenine Kotob and Principal Jeff Luker, AIA, LEED AP led a tour of the Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center construction site for architects from the QEA Washington, DC office.
The tour walked visitors through all 4 levels of the building, visiting areas such as the new school commons, renovated bathrooms and fully finished classroom mockups, the gymnasium, and the pool.
A historically and culturally significant school for the Adams Morgan community, the fully renovated facility will serve as an exemplar for 21st century learning spaces in the Greater DC Area. The “Learning Center” was originally created in 1977 in an attempt to solve overcrowding at Morgan School and to address the lack of social and recreational facilities in the community. When it first opened, it housed a preschool through 5th grade school program, public day care facility, women’s health clinic and dental and medical services along with public recreational and sports facilities.
The brutalist structure was originally designed as an open concept plan, but this design presented several challenges for the school program within. In addition to lacking the necessary infrastructure to efficiently run the school, the building was not acoustically sound, had poor lighting and air quality. To address these issues, the District’s Department of General Services (DGS) contracted the services of Quinn Evans Architects (QEA); lead architects in the modernization and renovation project of the building.
The renovation, expected to be completed by July 2017, will include additional spaces to fit new and efficient programing, such as the new Arts + Sciences Commons which seeks to marry several programs for a cross disciplinary teaching philosophy. Lighting issues were addressed by incorporating three new skylights and adding large windows on the exterior façade. The project will also integrate highly sustainable features including green roofs and photovoltaic skylight windows, in hopes of targeting LEED Gold certification. The design also includes a fully renovated public plaza on the north side, with a cascading sculpture garden with art commissioned from local DC artists to be rotated every 2-3 years.
The most exciting part of the design process has been the significant involvement of the community. This approach can have a meaningful impact on the design, resulting in a space that not only addresses the needs of the community, but also provides them with a sense of ownership and pride over the project.
“It always comes back to the students. Understanding their development and utilizing the practice of architecture to assist in their growth and development.”
- Jenine Kotob
The tour was hosted by the project’s general contractor: Gilbane Building Company. They also provided guests with a delicious meal.