Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School

Washington, District of Columbia

  • FIRM

    Fanning Howey


    District of Columbia Public Schools

  • AREA

    140,992 sq.ft.





The restoration of Phelps High School turned an abandoned building into a high-tech educational environment for the architecture, construction and engineering trades. The school offers a project-based curriculum designed in partnership with local and national professional organizations.

A soaring two-story commons connects the ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMBryant MitchellCAPACITY622COST PER SQ FT$293.26CITATIONRenovation/Modernization CitationFEATURED IN2009 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation 1930s structure with the later additions. Classrooms include high-tech drafting labs, and heavy-equipment and crane simulators. Wireless connectivity and varied breakout spaces encourage collaboration among students.

The building serves as a valuable teaching tool. The commons acts as a showcase for construction displays, including welding, drywall and masonry. Color-coded building systems and exposed structural elements offer examples of best practices in building construction and design.

The modernization was completed in only 16 months. Restoration efforts preserved historic brick, woodwork and terrazzo floors while integrating LEED for Schools strategies. Helical wind turbines, photovoltaic solar arrays and a geothermal cold-water loop provide almost 100 percent of the school’s energy needs.

In its first year of operation, Phelps has attracted students from across the district and neighboring states, and has restored the rich heritage of one of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic schools.

"Unique design utilizing building infrastructure as a training tool. The design embraces new technology and provides an open, inspiring learning environment."--2009 jury