This historic school was revitalized through a modernization program that builds upon the history of this neighborhood icon.

Through a thoughtful modernization and expansion design, QEA created a 21st century school from a historic building on a tight urban site. Renovation in the existing building capitalizes on generous proportions, high ceilings, and large windows that maximize daylight. The addition complements the architecture and materials of the original building and houses large public spaces such as the cafeteria and gymnasium. A gothic arched entrance from the building’s original south entrance was relocated and used as a gateway into the building.  


  • Restored historic urban school
  • Renovation capitalizes on building’s existing characteristics
  • Recognized by National Trust for Historic Preservation as part of its “Save Our Schools” Initiative
  • 39,000 sf renovation and 15,000 sf addition
  • Constructed originally in 1911, third story in 1938


  • 2005 Merit Award, AIA Washington Chapter
  • 2005 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation
“Cleveland Elementary School in Washington DC’s historic Shaw neighborhood was handsome but needy – lacking classroom, gym, and library space and modern upgrades…the project ensures the continued strong presence of a beloved landmark”

Preservation Magazine (Jan/Feb 2005) 

© Ron Blunt Photography

© Ron Blunt Photography© Ron Blunt Photography© Ron Blunt Photography© Ron Blunt Photography

Schooled in Revival

When the project was originally scoped, many thought that demolition or relocation to a new site was required to meet educational specifications. Though located on tight site, QEA saw the opportunities for creating a state-of-the-art community school from the existing building. With community support for saving the building, the creative use of formerly undesirable spaces, and construction of an addition to house the large public areas, the historic school building was renewed as the traditional anchor of this neighborhood. The project was featured by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as part of its “Save Our Schools” initiative.