Dorothy I. Height Elementary School Recognized for Outstanding Design
by 
Jeanine Quaglia
December 20, 2019

The modernization of the Dorothy I. Height Elementary School in Baltimore, designed by Quinn Evans, has been recognized for Outstanding Design in Interior Renovation by American School & University magazine. The school is featured in the magazine’s 2019 “Educational Interiors Showcase.” The project previously received a Social Equity Design Award from the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Completed in 2018, the project renovated 32,000 square feet of the 1960s-era building, including the auditorium, gym, and cafeteria; and expanded the school with a 60,000-square-foot addition that accommodates flexible learning environments and facilities for shared community use. The new academic wing extends the school to meet an existing public park, where students are able to use the playground and basketball courts. A paved public square with an outdoor classroom and an open play field was also created at the new main entry.

The expansion features collaborative areas located off the main corridor that provide flexible breakout space. Large windows allow for ample natural light throughout the instructional spaces. Community spaces include a community room, parent volunteer room, food pantry, clothing pantry and laundry, recreation and parks center, and the Judy Center, which provides state-funded outreach to underserved children and families.

The school is LEED® Gold-certified. Sustainable features include micro bio-retention planters that work with the topography to manage storm water runoff. Daylighting and automatic lighting controls reduce energy use. Solar gain is managed by high-performance glazing and interior and exterior shading devices.

The project involved extensive community outreach during the planning and design, including a series of workshops that helped identify priorities. Preserving and refurbishing the existing auditorium was among the community’s objectives, resulting in a significant upgrade to the space with new theatrical lighting and sound systems, sloped seating, and acoustical paneling. The auditorium is frequently used for community events.

The school is named for Dorothy I. Height, a past president of the National Council of Negro Women, who died in 2010.

Quinn Evans provided planning, architecture, and interior design services. Additional team members included Global Engineering Solutions for mechanical, electrical, and fire detection engineering and energy modeling; Columbia Engineering for structural engineering; USSI Technologies for AV/IT, telecommunications, and electronic security; KES Engineering for plumbing and fire suppression engineering; Site Resources for civil engineering and landscape design; and Culinary Advisor for food service design.

The Quinn Evans team in Baltimore included Principal David Benn, AIA, LEED AP; Principal Joe Cellucci, AIA; Principal Mark Nook, AIA; and Associate Sara Langmead, AIA, PE, LEED AP.

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