Paul PCS

Washington, DC -

Paul Public Charter School is a 135,000 sft renovation and 30,000 sft addition of a former DCPS junior high school. Located in Northwest Washington DC, the facility modernization effort was geared toward the specialized program developed by Paul PCS founder Cecile Middleton. The students participate in an integrated multi-disciplinary program of Academics, Arts and Athletics. While the original school building primarily addresses the academic programming, the addition responds to the arts and athletics needs of the school with a new double gym, dance studio and art center. The double gym allows for simultaneous use by multiple student groups, and includes an indoor running track at the gym perimeter. Other programs housed in the addition include a library, resource center, offices and support spaces. A bridge at the second floor connects the addition to the existing building. Field work includes a new synthetic turf football field, warm up space, and an outdoor classroom.

The school is located within a low income African American neighborhood of Washington DC with the purpose of helping to revitalize the neighborhood and serving the larger community. The addition is designed in a way that allows the use of the gyms by neighborhood groups, when not in use by the students. The American football field is also accessible to the community. The project was achieved through funds from the city government as well as grants and donations from various foundations.

One of the design and construction goals was to build the school economically, using resources in a creative and efficient way. The addition is constructed using prefabricated structural insulated panels (SIPs). The panels act as the exterior wall structure, provide high thermal insulation properties, and are cost and time effective. Using the paneling allowed the team to cut construction time in half, to meet the school’s demanding schedule. The interior OSB surface was left exposed, as another cost saving measure. The addition exterior is clad in a cementitious panel rain screen system, a cost effective and energy efficient finish. The gym volume is highlighted with red panels, while the art center and dance studio are clad in white. The exterior glazing consists of insulating glass units with a white ceramic frit pattern, used to reduce reflections and glare within the interior spaces.


2017 AIA Potomac Valley Design Award, Institutional Architecture
2017 AIA NOVA Award of Excellence

Photos by: Alan Karchmer