One of the most ambitious adaptive reuse projects in DC Public Schools' (DCPS) history, the new McKinley Middle School was created from vacant space on the city's historic McKinley High School property.

The project converted 60,000 square feet of space into a state-of-the-art STEM academic and laboratory environment that supports collaborative and project-based learning in science and technology. The design-build renovation, completed for DC's Department of General Services, is the first DCPS renovation project to achieve LEED Platinum certification.


  • Creation of pioneering STEM middle school
  • Adaptive use of surplus space within a circa-1926 high school
  • Fast-track, design-build delivery
  • Innovative use of high-tech materials to showcase manufacturing processes
  • First LEED-CI Platinum renovation for DC Public Schools


  • 2014 Award of Excellence for Commercial Interiors by the USGBC-National Capital Region Chapter
  • 2015 Citation for Outstanding Design American School & University's Architectural Portfolio
Overhead distribution and mobile workstations support flexible configurations in the labs. © Joe Romeo PhotographyClassrooms feature advanced instructional technology including interactive projectors, voice amplification, and carefully designed acoustics.  © Joe Romeo Photography© Joe Romeo PhotographyHallways are designed as student galleries that display work and encourage discussion.  © Joe Romeo Photography© Joe Romeo Photography© Joe Romeo PhotographyInformal gathering spaces support social interaction.  © Joe Romeo Photography

A STEM Showcase

The engineering lab features overhead distribution of compressed air, vacuum, and power; mobile workstations; and flexible-height lab tables. The innovative use of high-tech materials includes custom-designed CNC milled wainscot panels depicting a molecular inspired pattern and cellular 3form illuminated panels along hallways, galleries, and integrated into furniture pieces. These details, influenced by the STEM curriculum, demonstrate contemporary manufacturing processes and use of fabrication lab equipment.

“Our agency prides itself on our sustainable quality construction and as our first LEED Platinum school project, we are honored to deliver this project to the students, faculty and community as we continue to support the Mayor’s vision for a Sustainable DC.”

Brian J. Hanlon, Director of the Department of General Services

Designed to Connect and Inspire

Large expanses of glass along hallways allow for views into laboratory spaces, fostering excitement and curiosity for learning. Hallways are designed as dynamic galleries that showcase student work and generate discussion. Vibrant graphic identity and design components include large-scale images of inventors and industry icons and role models.

© Joe Romeo Photography