Marie Reed Elementary School

Washington, DC

Opened in 1977, Marie Reed Community Learning Center is a wonderfully diverse school located in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. With a robust public health clinic, child care center, adult education, swimming pool, and turf field, Marie Reed is the hub of the neighborhood. Designed as an inwardly focused, open concept school, it was an outdated facility that lacked appealing, flexible spaces for a variety of instructional programs and gatherings. Poor acoustics and insufficient natural light throughout the building also hampered instruction.

Every space within the building was redesigned to generate a strong sense of community, with a mix of enclosed classrooms and open commons spaces. The design is inspired by a neighborhood theme, with a large, multipurpose “town hall,” intimate “community corners,” and an internal “main street” to welcome students with a friendly, easy-to-navigate environment for instruction; large and small gatherings; and self-directed exploration, play, and study.

The modernization not only accommodated the needs of its elementary school students, but the needs of the community for years to come. The exterior of the imposing structure was peeled away to create a more transparent, welcoming presence along the street. A new plaza along this western edge promotes gathering and interaction, and features colorful new playground equipment, a permeable play surface, new bench seating, gardens, and a sculpture garden.

Selux Arca was chosen for its minimalist sleek look, excellent visual comfort and optimal spreading of light with no up light - perfect for lighting the pathways around the community center. Arca blends in seamlessly into its surroundings, the square pole and double pole top mount echoing the brick pattern of the walkway.

architect Quinn Evans

general contractor Gilbane Construction

photographer Joseph Romeo Photography

representation Chesapeake Lighting

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