1351 Alabama Avenue, SE
Dear Mr. Anderson:
In its public meeting of 18 March conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for the renovation of and additions to the former Malcolm X Elementary School, located at 1351 Alabama Avenue, SE, for use by the Bard High School Early College program. The Commission approved the concept with the following recommendations for the development of the design.
The Commission members expressed strong support for the proposal to transform the existing 1970s school building into a contemporary facility, agreeing that the new atrium with an open communicating stair at its center would create a light-filled place of thinking and learning; they suggested making the atrium larger if possible. They also endorsed the concept to transform the building’s exterior by replacing blank brick panels with new windows framed by figural, angled surrounds. In their discussion, some Commission members found that the varying geometry of these surrounds would enliven the facade in counterpoint to the elegant uniformity of the primary volume’s composition; others commented that the irregular pattern would compromise the gridded order of the elevation, and they requested preparation of a second option studying a more regular pattern. The Commission members recommended against using applied color on the surrounds as this would detract from the civic character of the building. Finally, they commented that the proposed mural on the freestanding wall of the new plaza would be a welcome addition to this outdoor space, and they advised thoughtful consideration of the final artwork to ensure that it enhances the intended use of the plaza.
The Commission looks forward to further review of the project. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Keith A. Anderson, Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20009
cc: Omar Calderon, Perkins Eastman DC
Diana Halbstein, D.C. Public Schools