Allison Leighton, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, recently led a tour for local design and construction leaders of Cristo Rey Richmond High School in Richmond, VA for Women in Construction (WIC) Week. The National Association of Women in Construction Women (NAWIC) held the first WIC Week in 1998 and it has grown and expanded each year since. WIC Week celebrates and promotes the role of women in the construction industry.
The Cristo Rey renovation is not only about renovating a place of learning, but it is also a vehicle for an underserved student population to gain new access to the business community in Richmond and provide job and life skills to students. Cristo Rey took over the former Benedictine High School in Richmond’s Museum District and has worked through a multi-phase renovation to provide a renewed learning environment for approximately 96 students. Students who attend Cristo Rey get opportunities to intern with local business who in turn support Cristo Rey via student scholarships through a work study program. Additionally, students are exposed to more college-bound opportunities and can learn in state-of-the-art educational environments.
The existing classroom building was constructed in 1911, and the new design will utilize historic state tax credits to support the project. The project design serves to mediate a series of intersections – the intersection between traditional academics and real-world experience, inter-city students and corporate professionals, and a historic building and next-generation learning environments. The school is not zoned and welcomes applicants throughout the Richmond community, acting as an accessible and inclusive community resource for students and their families. The new design will create learning environments that bridge those intersections through a professional aesthetic that respects the context of the historic building and the personal context that the students will bring.