Dunbar Senior High School

Washington, DC

Our design for the new Dunbar High School is inspired by the cherished 1917 building, which served the school before its demolition in the 1970’s, while also looking forward to the future by providing 21st Century learning environments. The new 280,000 gsf building’s entry plaza will have a southern orientation approached from New York Avenue and seen from across the Dunbar Recreation Center. Students, visitors and staff are welcomed in a south-facing entry plaza designed to signify the seriousness of purpose of the institution. The adjacent academic wing is characterized by bay windows and towers, reminiscent of the historic Dunbar school building.

The Armory of the historic Dunbar provides the inspiration for the principle organizing element of the school’s interior, a new atrium-like Armory becomes the “heart of the school” connecting the academic wing, the sports fields, the 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 overall design seeks to embody the education of the whole person.

The school is being designed to achieve LEED for Schools Platinum certification, featuring 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.