Dorothy Hamm Middle School
Arlington, Virginia

Formerly known as Stratford Junior High School, Dorothy Hamm Middle School played a prominent role in Virginia’s civil rights history when on February 2, 1959, the all-white junior high became the first public secondary school in the Commonwealth of Virginia to desegregate with the admission of four African American students. The renovation and 40,000 SF addition pays homage to that history and shares the lessons of that period with today’s learners. The heart of the new addition, known as the Central Core, features an open, grand staircase, connecting all three levels both physically and visually. The second floor introduces a new, vibrant student commons—an open, flexible space that promotes a sense of belonging and community with a variety of comfortable seating options, and a large media wall that encourages curiosity, knowledge, activism. This commons space and nearby glass-front classrooms surround the relocated and expanded library and heavily contributes to a transformed learning experience that looks to the future of modern education. In both the addition and the renovated existing building, we designed expansive, light-filled classrooms that enable students to work either independently or collaboratively in small groups. As part of the remodel, the school was renamed in honor of Dorothy Hamm, a local civil rights activist and leading advocate for equal rights for African Americans in Virginia, who was a leader in the federal desegregation suit filed in 1956 that led to the integration of Stratford Junior High School.

Watch Dorothy Hamm Middle School: A School Inspired By History:

The Solution


  • Virginia School Board Association Platinum Design Award –Renovation
“We want our learning spaces to create the opportunity for students to learn critical skills and problem-solving in authentic ways. That is powerful learning. We wanted to move away from the traditional classroom. The teacher is not the sage on the stage anymore. The teacher is the coach. They’re facilitating the building of these skills through rich content and enriching learning experiences.”
No items found.

Project Team

No items found.
View all work in 

Questions or ideas? Let's get in touch.