When Anacostia residents requested a new school that would serve as a functional and symbolic window to the future, Sorg Architects responded with a celebratory design that gives voice to the students and community. The 200,000 SF modernization of this 1,200-student facility includes new classrooms, labs, cafeteria space, gymnasium, auditorium, media center, as well as new building systems, electrical, and data design. Sorg’s approach encompassed highlighting the historic 1930s structure in architectural expression, and reintroducing clarity to the building’s floor plan. Characteristics of this structure include fine architectural detail work, high ceilings, large windows, as well as terrazzo and wood flooring—all of which were covered over or severely damaged.
Sorg’s plan to emphasize the clarity of the exterior design entailed fully restoring the original structure and cleaning the exterior of visual impediments, which included years of patchwork and exposed utility work. Redesign of exterior entry points helps to provide better security for the school and to control circulation to the project’s many shared facilities. In addition, this significant effort brought the facility up to current building code and accessibility standards.
Sorg’s building design also leverages art as a primary design feature. In collaboration with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, a local artist was commissioned to collaborate with students to create murals that were ultimately adapted, screen printed, and displayed as a design feature throughout the corridors of the modernized school.
The renovated Anacostia High School includes vegetated green roofs on all flat roof areas, among other sustainable features throughout the building. Intertwined in the design and engineering from the outset, the integration of green building strategies resulted in a new school facility that is LEED Gold.
American School + University, Outstanding Designs: High Schools, 2013