DC International School, USA

DC International School, USA

Signal of Change

Two public charter schools with dual-language curricula occupy a nearly 100-year-old Georgian Revival brick building on a former medical campus in the District of Columbia. A three-story wing added to the “F”-shape plan opts for a contemporary expression with light-colored façades. The addition signals a new direction for the old, now “completed” building and its educational occupants, as well as for the redevelopment of the larger campus.

Find the whole story including an exclusive interview with the architects Ann Neeriemer and Stewart Gregory Swisspearl Architecture #28.Subscribe to our magazine to get the printed issue.
 

©Brycen Fischer, USA

Completing the “E” is what the team at Perkins Eastman DC calls their addition to Delano Hall in Washington, DC. Built in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a nurse’s dormitory at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Delano Hall got only two of its planned three wings. For decades, the large building sat as an “F” rather than an “E.” Walter Reed closed in 2011, after more than 100 years of operation, and by the end of the decade Delano Hall was transformed into two public charter schools: DC International School (DCI), a middle and high school, and Latin American Montessori Bilingual (LAMB), an elementary school, with 1,750 students combined. LAMB sits in the easternmost existing wing while DCI occupies the rest of the 180,000-squarefoot building as well as the new wing, which houses the art rooms, science labs, and gymnasium-spaces that could not be accommodated in the old building’s narrow footprint.
 

©Brycen Fischer, USA

The three walls of Swisspearl sit atop a base of concrete block: a reference to the one-story datum of the existing building and a perceptually solid base for the addition. In a subtle detail, the Swisspearl panels overlap the concrete by one block, wedding the two materials while also expressing the thinness of the fiber cement.
 

©Brycen Fischer, USA

From the overlap, the Swisspearl panels ascend to the roofline in two panels sizes (2 × 4 feet, and 2 × 8 feet) that are composed in three-part alternating rows, echoing the English bond coursing of Delano Hall’s brick. Although riveted to meet the school’s budget, the matching heads don’t register until up close. However, the result is far from monolithic: the two panel sizes yield appealing variations in shading that are visible regardless of the uniform Champagne color.
 

©Brycen Fischer, USA

So “completing the ‘E’” doesn’t mean replicating the existing building’s style, footprint, or materials. It means making the old building work in its new life as a school. The addition’s brick façades indicate continuity with the old, while the contemporary elevations covered in Swisspearl signal change: of function, of users, and of attitude.
 

NICE TO KNOW

Object
DC International School

 

Location
Washington, DC, USA

 

Architects
Perkins Eastman DC, Washington, DC, USA

 

Photos
Brycen Fischer Photography, Baltimore, MD, USA

 

Building period
2017 – 2018

 

Façade material
Swisspearl Largo Reflex Champagne 9290

PDF project sheet
Click here to download the project sheet

 

Read more – Swisspearl Architecture magazine
Find the whole story including an exclusive interview with the architects Ann Neeriemer and Stewart Gregory Swisspearl Architecture #28.Subscribe to our magazine to get the printed issue.

 

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