Heller & Metzger in Washington, DC

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Washington, DC / EE&K Architects + Engineers

Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, founded in 1870, recently abandoned its 1970s-era building and moved next door to its new $122 million updated home, designed by Perkins Eastman. The Armory of the historic Dunbar provides the inspiration for the principle organizing element of the school’s interior, as a new atrium-like Armory becomes the “heart of the school”, connecting the academic wing, sports fields, gym, pool, auditorium and cafeteria seating areas. The Academic wing provides state-of-the-art, flexible learning environments that will accommodate four distinct academies, breaking down the scale of the 1,100 student school. Faculty offices integrated into each level ensure positive interaction between faculty and students throughout the school. The school is set to achieve LEED for Schools Platinum certification, with such features as a ground source heat pump (aka “geothermal”) system, a 500,000 kW photovoltaic array, two 20,000 gallon cisterns for reusing rainwater, enhanced acoustics, low VOC materials and plentiful daylight and views. The specifications included requirements for a custom terrazzo lobby floor with plaques commemorating notable alumni that are set in the floor and radiate up the walls.