What could be a more inspiring place for middle schoolers to learn than a central location in Washington, DC? MGAC was recently tasked with renovating Eliot-Hine, a middle school situated just outside of capitol hill. MGAC’s Meg Davis is leading the project, providing project management and owners representation for the Department of General Services (DGS), who oversees DC schools, parks, and recreation among others. Turner Construction will serve as general contractors for the project.
The two year renovation begins this summer and is slated for completion in the 2020/2021 school year. Renovations will allow its 480 students to continue learning on-site, even with the dawn of a new school year come September. When complete, the Eliot-Hine renovation will restore the historic school building to its former glory while adding new, light-filled spaces for students to gather, socialize, and marvel at their surroundings. Eliot-Hine was built in 1931, and throughout its nearly 90-year existence has been altered to accommodate its growing student body. As a result, the school is overdue for thoughtful and strategic updates that better suit the needs of current students and parents.
Eliot-Hine’s main schoolhouse was built and occupied first, soon joined by an annex space in 1936. Both will stay in tact during renovations. The school introduced two additional wings onto the building in the 1960’s, which will be removed and reimagined in this process. This piece is critical to removing “dead ends” within hallways and buildings, ultimately allowing for smooth and direct pathways for students and teachers to walk each day and to encourage connectivity and interaction throughout the campus.
Eliot-Hine faces Capitol Hill – but you’d not currently realize this from the inside. Through the renovation, a new entrance and courtyard along 18th Street will be added, along with a glass encased gymnasium to showcase its exceptional neighborhood views. The driving factor behind the new design by architect Perkins Eastman, is both the need and desire for students to gather in “non academic settings” for more casual socialization and camaraderie something regularly addressed in the School Improvement Team (SIT) which is comprised of parents, staff, and community members. The renovated school will provide a far more open and welcoming environment for students, teachers and the community at large. It is also expected to meet sustainability guidelines for LEED Gold certification.
Keeping the school’s historical aspects in tact are critical. The Commission of Fine Arts and Historic Preservation Office provided recommendations for restoring and preserving its special elements, which included original crown molding in the auditorium and wood trim, the exposure of a 1930’s plaster ceiling (long covered by another surface), and the preservation of the lobby’s terrazzo floors.
Since beginning work on Eliot-Hine, MGAC was thrilled to have also been assigned additional DC schools in need of renovation. Work will begin in 2019. Eliot Hine is not the first school renovation project in MGAC’s portfolio. Davis and her team recently led the renovation of Episcopal High School, winning an Excellence in Construction Awards award for the historic restoration category for the renovation of the gymnasium of this beloved boarding school. Read more on that project here.