Eastern High School receives AIA Award of Excellence

September 26, 2011

Washington, DC - The AIA recognized Eastern High School with the Award of Excellence in Historic Resources at the 2011 AIA Awards Celebration.  The event marks the conclusion of Architecture week, a 14-day celebration of architecture that took place in Washington, DC in early September.

Eastern High School was built in 1923 and is one of the oldest high schools in the District of Columbia. Like many historic urban schools, Eastern experienced a series of patchwork renovations that, combined with years of underfunded maintenance budgets, detracted from its historic charm and left the building unable to support modern educational practices  Renovations reconfigured classrooms and science labs to resemble college-level learning environments. Science labs are centrally-located between general academic classrooms, and each small learning community includes student commons areas for small and large group instruction.

Many repurposed spaces now provide new opportunities for hands-on learning. On the ground floor, a practical/project lab includes an ambulance, which allows students to receive real-world training in health & medical Science. A robust technology infrastructure supports self-directed learning and programs such as Project Lead the Way. The entire Eastern campus is now wireless, and all classrooms include electronic whiteboards.

In addition to the integration of a modern learning environment, building renovations placed a strong focus on sustainable strategies – such as Indoor air quality, acoustics, and daylighting – that improve the quality of the learning environment. Prior to the renovations, Eastern lacked even basic amenities such as air-conditioning. The design focused on "warm, safe and dry" improvements such as hazardous materials abatement and roofing and window replacement. All mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems were replaced, and new interior finishes and automated lighting controls were added throughout the building.

Other sustainable features include a renovated greenhouse with a supporting rainwater cistern. Eastern is currently projected to earn LEED for Schools Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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