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Marie Reed Elementary School
Washington, DC

  • project Marie Reed Elementary School
  • architect Quinn Evans
  • general contractor Gilbane Construction
  • photographer Joseph Romeo Photography
  • representation Chesapeake Lighting

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.

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