A reflective report detailing the design project process for the Dorothy I. Height Elementary School renewal, formerly John Eager Howard Elementary School, cites Cho Benn Holback, a Quinn Evans Company as integral to the successful completion of this visionary project.
According to the report, “architects Joe Cellucci, Mark Nook and the [CBH | QEA] team have received much-deserved praise for this project, and the process they implemented.”
The report, published by Healthy Neighborhoods, reconciles lessons learned throughout the entire project process and aims to become an instructional piece for other schools and design teams. Most prevalent throughout the report is the idea of community stakeholder engagement. The CBH|QEA team implemented a process which helped identify keywords and themes important to the community, along with ideas shared by architects, teachers, and students. This, in turn, helped inform solutions for the school, yielding a 21st century learning facility.
“In addition to a robust School Design Core Team, John Eager Howard worked with an architecture firm that closely aligned with its process for listening and engagement with the community. Baltimore City Schools assigned Cho Benn Holback [a Quinn Evans Company], a Baltimore architecture firm that honors community and a history of location as well as meaningful collaboration, to work with John Eager Howard."
Shannen Coleman Siciliano
This redevelopment is part of the Baltimore City Schools 21st Century Building’s initiative, which aims to “create inspiring educational environments for Baltimore City and its public school students.” CBH|QEA was initially selected by the City of Baltimore to complete a feasibility study. This scope was later expanded to include the design for the renovation of the school.
CBH | QEA was tasked with designing a vibrant and dynamic school facility which also had flexible space to accommodate community-school partnerships. The new school reinforces innovative learning models and provides access to technology in addition to providing programs and access to resources for adults, businesses, nearby colleges, and community organizations
The joint use of the school as an educational institution and community space stands as a testament to the school’s commitment to community engagement. Through the participatory design process, the team instilled a sense of participation, ownership, and pride.
Dorothy I. Height is also designated as a “Green School.” With an emphasis on environmental and sustainable practices, the new facility will be a teaching tool for how technology and environmentally conscious design can be thoughtfully integrated.