Dunbar Senior High School

Washington, District of Columbia

  • FIRM

    Perkins Eastman


    DC Department of General Services

  • AREA

    25,000 sq.ft.





The new Dunbar Senior High School provides a high-performance learning environment designed to catalyze the renewal of one of our most historic schools. Founded in 1870, Dunbar was the country's first high school for African-Americans and its alumni include people of extraordinary accomplishment. The challenge was to create a facility that honors this notable heritage ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMMoody NolanCOST PER SQ FT$360.00CITATIONGold CitationFEATURED IN2014 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYCommon Areas looking to the future.

The design is inspired by the school’s now cherished 1917 building, demolished in the 1970s. Like its historic predecessor, the new building reengages the community by establishing an inviting civic presence and by reopening a closed street as a sustainable model. The design reimagines the 1917 building’s centrally located armory, as the heart of the school.

Throughout, Dunbar’s heritage is celebrated through plaques and super graphics featuring accomplished alumni. While metaphorically building on history, the new building is decidedly 21st Century, fostering four academies and encouraging active community use. Striving for LEED Platinum, it features a “geothermal” system, a 482 kW photovoltaic array, cisterns, enhanced acoustics, low VOC materials, and plentiful daylight and views.