Posted tagged ‘Park View School’

Park View School Modernization Underway

June 18, 2012

Dumpsters in front of the Park View School building

The summer modernization of the historic Park View School building began in earnest on Saturday, June 16th. As expected, dumpsters, fencing and barriers showed up in advance of the final day of classes for the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View students. As you can see from the photo, the dumpsters quickly filled up.

Not everything in the school ended up in dumpsters, though. School supplies, library books, and equipment the faculty wanted saved was packed up for storage to return in the fall.

Construction at the school is expected to be intense for the duration of the summer break.

Items boxed up and ready for storage on the school’s mezzanine


What to Expect During School Renovations This Summer

June 12, 2012

With the close of the last day of classes at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School on June 15th will come the start of the modernization of the historic 96 year old building. Starting on Saturday, June 16th, construction will begin in earnest in order to get the building back in order for the start of school in the fall.

The work that will soon begin will be the first of three planned phases that will ultimately end in 2018 and bring the building up to modern standards and expectations for educational facilities today. During the eight to nine weeks of construction, work will begin around 7 a.m. and continue as late as possible. The construction is not expected to cause much noise or inconvenience for the community. The most noticeable impact on the surrounding community appears to be along the Warder Street side of the school.

In looking at the traffic plan below, it is clear that no streets will be closed during construction. Warder Street, however, will be reduced to parking on the east and a center travel lane. The parking lane on the west will be used for storage containers, dumpsters, and staging.

The work this summer will focus on classrooms, restrooms, and administration areas of the school. The cafeteria and gymnasium will get some freshening up, but will not be modernized in this phase of the project. The auditorium will be left entirely to a latter phase as well.

About 60% of the work will focus on infrastructure and services — new electrical, HVAC, computer cabling, and plumbing. To support the increased need for power, the building will get a heavy up.

The other 40% of the work will focus on fit and finishes of the renovated classrooms. In the original 1916 building the plan is to restore the original woodwork. To create space for all the technology infrastructure the ceilings will be dropped. In the 1931 wings of the building there is no woodwork in the classrooms, so the walls in those rooms will be furred out to make space for the cabling there.

Those wanting more details about the modernization of the school will have an opportunity at the June 13th ANC 1A meeting where DGS is expected to make a presentation to the Commission. Meetings start at 7:00 p.m. and are held at the Harriet Tubman Elementary School, 13th Street N.W. (Gymnasium).


It’s Official, HPRB Approves Park View School Designation as a D.C. Historic Site

May 25, 2012

The Park View School from the south ca. 1919

The Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously yesterday (May 24, 2012) to designate the Park View School a landmark to be entered in the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites, including the interior of the auditorium, and that the nomination be forwarded to the National Register of Historic Places with a positive recommendation for listing as of local significance.

Below is an excerpt from the Historic Preservation Office Staff Report on the Park View School, which sums it up nicely.

Park View Elementary is sui generis. While it is consistent with the school property subtype associated with the first municipal architect, Snowden Ashford, it is unique for its 700-seat auditorium. No other elementary school before 1949 had its own dedicated auditorium, although some had gymnasium/cafeteria/auditorium spaces. And such multipurpose rooms did not compare to this soaring space, with its balcony and remarkable, complicated trusses, clearly calculated to serve as a public meeting and performance venue. Inside and out, Park View is a superior specimen of the public elementary school.


Community Meeting on School Modernization Set for Saturday, Jan. 28 @ 10 a.m.

January 24, 2012

This Saturday (1/28) at 10 a.m., members of the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School Improvement Team will host a community meeting to inform the community about the current plans to modernize the 94 year old school (click on the image to enlarge the flier).

This is an important project and I encourage anyone and everyone who is interested in education, the Park View community, and/or historic preservation to attend this meeting. You can review the January 17, 2012 concept plan for the modernization prior to the meeting or wait until the presentation for details.

Appropriately, the meeting will be held in the auditorium — which was built to support community programs and events.

I was recently asked why residents who do not have children at the school would need to care about this project. I’ll list three reasons below and trust readers will come up with a few of their own after they read the concept plan.

  • There is a need to coordinate the projects at the school and neighboring rec center to maximize the usefulness of public space in the neighborhood. Currently, the school plans dedicate more school greenspace to playground use rather than use the rec center property.
  • The school project hopes to improve parking and trash collection at the rear of the property. This area is adjacent to a public alley and residences on 6th Street, NW. These residents need to be involved in any decisions that impact the alley.
  • The school’s auditorium was originally built to serve the greater community as public space for plays, concerts and meetings. There are many in the community that would like to see the auditorium support such activities again. Getting involved now will ensure that any renovations to the school will provide the infrastructure needed to support an active, public use of the auditorium.

This is a unique opportunity to participate in improving the community.  I hope to see you there.
(Cross section of the Park View School — east to west through the auditorium — from the original 1915 plans)


First Draft of SORG’s Conceptual Modernization of the Park View School Unveiled, Needs More Work

January 19, 2012

(Rendering by SORG Architects of the renovated Park View School)

On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, SORG Architects unveiled their 33 page conceptual plan to the School Improvement Team (SIT) for comment. I’m still in the process of requesting minutes and comments from attendees of that meeting. I will also be scheduling community meetings to gather neighborhood input and ensure that residents’ concerns and needs are addressed in the modernization process as required by the process.

As one might expect upon initially reviewing the concept package, there are areas that are very good and areas that still need to be reconsidered. I’ll highlight a few of them below.

Issues Still Needing to be Addressed

Since SORG first presented a preliminary assessment on December 20th, it truly appears that there has been no progress on the major issues of the auditorium balcony, ground floor public restrooms, and planned inclusion of additional playgrounds. Additionally, modernizing a 96-year-old building is a lot more complicated than modernizing a building like Harriet Tubman. The building will require significant reprogramming for it to adequately serve as an elementary school for the next century. I’ll focus on a couple important issues here:

  • Need for ground floor public restrooms: SORG’s concept removes two substantial public restrooms adjacent to the auditorium and replaces it with a two stall “teachers toilet” across the hall. As one of the stated goals is to return the auditorium to active community use, it makes no sense to have a 700-seat auditorium with inadequate public restroom facilities.
  • The site plans continue to show nearly all the school’s greenspace being developed for playgrounds. One need look no further than the rendering above for an example of one of these proposed playgrounds prominently displayed. Again, destroying all of the school’s greenspace for playgrounds is unnecessary with a recreational facility directly across the street.
  • Redevelopment of the parking and trash areas: The drawings indicate that the back of the school — including the alley — will be included in the project. The chief concern here is how any reconfiguration of the parking and trash areas will impact the residents living on 6th Street, NW.

Where They Seem to be Getting it Right

One thing that becomes apparent in reading the architectural summary of the project and in looking at details such as the ones below is that the architects do seem to understand the overall concept of preserving the historical integrity of the building during the modernization process. Even so, there are issues that will not be settled until after the Historic Preservation Review Board takes up the school’s historic landmark application. In other areas, such as windows and downspouts, mention of them may merely be omitted at this stage but included in the final concept. Interior details include saving the terrazzo floors and changing out the doors with period appropriate wood panel and glass doors.

(SORG presentation sheet indicating overall repairs planned for the exterior of the building)


Park View School Incinerator Removed — Call to Get Involved in the School’s Modernization

January 12, 2012

Crane on Newton Place assisting with removal of school incinerator, January 7, 2012

Anyone in the vicinity of Warder and Newton Place on Saturday morning, January 7, 2012, is sure to have noticed a crane that was assisting with work at the Park View School. For those that aren’t up on the repairs and work going on at the school, the crane was needed to help remove the stack that was part of the old incinerator.

While incinerating trash was once a common practice, this isn’t something that anyone really does anymore. In preparation of the coming modernization of the school, the incinerator and its components, including the stack, were entirely removed freeing up space for other uses.

In preparation for the school’s modernization, the School Improvement Team (SIT) has already begun meeting. From what I’ve seen so far, the meetings are almost entirely made up of the school community with almost no representation from those that live in the neighborhood. Yet, the SIT process clearly states that community members and all stakeholders are to be involved in the process.

I encourage all interested residents to get involved. Meetings are currently scheduled for the third (3rd) Tuesday of every month at 3:30 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for January 17th.

To become involved or find out more information, contact SIT Chair Kelley Padilla by email or phone (202 576-6222). Your involvement is essential.


Preliminary Site Plan, Blocking and Stacking Proposal for Park View School Modernization to be Discussed by SIT Team Today

December 20, 2011

Now that the School Improvement Team (SIT) has formed for the modernization of the Park View School building, the process is moving ahead quickly. For the next couple of months it appears that there will be two meetings a month. One will be a full SIT meeting where key decisions are made and the other will be a working meeting where ideas are shared and plans assessed.

I’ve just received a copy of SORG’s initial proposal for the reprogramming of the school after modernization. This proposal has yet to be vetted by both the school community and surrounding neighborhood. Overall, the plans are very, very good. I particularly like the redesigned kitchen and cafeteria space. After looking at the plans, I only really had three areas of concerns which I’ve shared with the SIT working team members. Those areas are:

1. Preserve as much green space as possible and leverage the neighboring Recreation Center for supporting play areas. The current site proposal identifies three areas in front of the school to be devoted to playground use. See below.

2. Keep restrooms on the Ground floor centrally located to equally support school and public use of the building. The auditorium of the school was built to act as a community amenity as well as for school purposes. With programs such as the National Symphony Orchestra in Your Neighborhood, this amenity should continue to provide years of service to the school and neighborhood. See below.

3. Restore and retain the auditorium’s balcony. The balcony was converted less than six months ago into the principal’s office. The proposed space use of the modernized building further programs the space into the school’s welcome center. As the auditorium is a rare public space by a noted Washington architect, the balcony should be retained and restored as part of the space.

I will continue to keep the community informed as the plans develop and the actual work begins.


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