Set in the heart of the Adams Morgan neighborhood, the center’s history dates to the late 1960s when planning began for a school that would embrace desegregation and serve as a hub for the multicultural community.
Immediately in front of the new extension is an LED-illuminated translucent scrim made from brush-blasted stainless steel that filters western sunlight during the day and projects the school’s name at night in large, multicolored lettering, dramatically identifying the facility to passerby. The large lettering responds to the scale and prominence of the site, [Jeff Luker, AIA, LEED AP, a principal at QEA] said, adding that “given the neighborhood’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, now is a good time to celebrate the legacy of Marie H. Reed,” who was a noted community activist, minister, and leader. -ArchitectureDC Magazine
The original Brutalist structure was an inwardly focused, open concept school—an educational approach that was popular in the 1970s. Every space within the facility was renovated and transformed through this ambitious modernization, which carefully addressed the needs of both the school and the community.
Regarding changes to the facility’s interior floor plan, “the school was originally designed with open-space classrooms—basically as a school without any interior walls—which was a trending teaching philosophy at the at the time of construction,” [Tracy Hucul, AIA, LEED AP, a member of QEA’s team for the project,] said. “Today, this mode of teaching has proven to be more problematic, and a need for classrooms with acoustic separation was evident. Since the culture of the school was rooted in the use of open, shared spaces, the new design of the interior clustered groups of classrooms around large shared spaces. Small, open gathering areas were also incorporated throughout the school to provide additional open spaces for collaboration and to accommodate other modes of learning.” -ArchitectureDC Magazine