The light-filled media center, which boasts Art Deco-style chairs and giant corkscrew pendants.

Back to School

Located near the Capitol in Northwest DC, Dunbar Senior High School began life as America’s first public high school for African Americans. The venerable 1916 building was demolished in the ’70s to make way for a concrete behemoth typical of that era; in 2013, the firms of Perkins Eastman and Moody Nolan were elected to design a modern, functional school on its original location.

The new 280,000-square-foot brick, glass and steel structure can house 1,100 students and incorporates some traditional features of the 1916 building. Its design includes a sky-lit atrium with a food court and a media center (pictured) with Art Deco-style chairs and giant corkscrew pendants. The L-shaped floor plan encompasses one academic wing and another for sports and arts.

“We’ve created a building that reflects Dunbar’s past and looks to the future,” says architect Sean O’Donnell of Perkins Eastman. “Its flexible spaces support both the students and the community.” Dunbar is awaiting LEED Platinum certification.

ARCHITECTS OF RECORD: Perkins Eastman, Washington, DC, and Moody Nolan, Washington, DC. DESIGN ARCHITECTURE: Sean O’Donnell, AIA, LEED AP, principal-in-charge, Perkins Eastman. ASSOCIATE ARCHITECT: PATRICK WILLIAMS, AIA, Moody Nolan. CONTRACTOR: Smoot/Gilbane A Joint Venture, Washington, DC.