A New Chapter

Dorothy I. Height Elementary School

Dorothy I. Height Elementary School

Baltimore, Maryland

Our community-inspired renovation and expansion of this elementary school creates a vibrant neighborhood hub. Extensive community engagement revealed the need for a variety of supportive services in the school’s underserved neighborhood. In addition to the elementary school program, the renewed building houses community food and clothing pantries and a social services outreach center, while the site provides a public green space outside of school hours.

Bright, modern classrooms with flexible furniture support multiple teaching and learning styles. At the heart of the school, a new lobby connects the renovated building to the new, the interior to the exterior, and the school to its community.

A New Chapter
The Height School is the best example of a successful planning process to date. …The best stakeholder investment project I’ve seen. I’m knocked out by its success.
A photo of students in a school cafeteria.
A photo of a community engagement meeting.

Listening to the Community

Parents, teachers, and neighbors joined us in workshops that identified their priorities for the new school. Among other concerns, participatory exercises revealed the importance of a dedicated auditorium that the community can share rather than a standard “cafetorium” with no fixed seating.

A photo of students in a classroom.

Learning Outside the Classroom

Classrooms cluster around shared collaborative areas that provide flexible breakout spaces.

A photo of students in a classroom.
A photo of students walking through a school courtyard.

A Sustainable Site

Our design mitigates stormwater runoff on the sloping site with a series of stepped bioretention planters. In addition to filtering rainwater before returning it to the watershed, the planters provide views of foliage from classroom windows.

A photo of the interior of a school theater.

An Auditorium for Everyone

The community’s desire to keep the school’s existing auditorium drove the decision to renovate and expand the 1960s building rather than replace it entirely. The transformed auditorium provides the neighborhood with a safe performance space and professional theater systems.

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