2014 Committee on Architecture for Education Design Excellence Award
Baltimore Design School is a new Baltimore City Public combined middle and high school with a focus on Fashion, Architecture, and Graphic Design. The new school is created from an abandoned historic factory building. The building’s transformation from blight to a state-of-the-art facility within the confines of a minimal budget demonstrates the power of design through best practices for historic renovation, adaptive reuse, educational design, and sustainable design. A driving force in creating the school was the desire to develop creativity and design-informed critical thinking skills for public school students.
The Baltimore Design School is a dramatic makeover of an old inner city factory to create a design magnet school spanning grades six to twelve. The directness of the solution clearly communicates the curriculum and focus of school and creates an uplifting series of spaces in which to discover and learn. Abundant natural light interplays with the frankly exposed concrete structure and simply but dramatically detailed infill to create lively, dynamic interior spaces. The generous expanse and proportions of the exterior glazing have been maintained, creating a neighborhood beacon at night. The generous high ceilinged volumes of the interior corridors and interconnected gathering spaces create contemporary learning settings and the perimeter classrooms are also bright, cheerful and engaging. The almost archeological sensibility used to play the existing, historic fabric against the infill planes of glass and white plaster make this place edgy in a stimulating and positive way. Simple moves achieved through modest means have yielded great results. The political vision and will that made this project happen is a great model for other urban communities.
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