Dorothy Thomas Exceptional Center

Tampa, Florida


Hillsborough County Public Schools


40,000 sq.ft.

Total Cost


Completion Date


Design team
Sol J. Fleischman AIA, NCARB (Principal-in-Charge); Ken Zuker (Project Manager); Marcel Maslowski AIA (Project Architect); Keenan Johnson LEED® Green Associate (Interior Designer); Lauren Campo PE (Civil Engineer); James Mehltretter PE (Structural Engineer); Gregory Bowen PE, LEED® AP BD+C (MEP Engineer)

The new Dorothy Thomas Exceptional Center is a school dedicated to K-12 students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Serving students with challenging and increasingly complex needs, the school is designed for students who learn best in supportive and safe environments free of auditory and visual distractions. Daylighting, nature views, and areas for outdoor learning help increase attention and retention of information and reduce disciplinary incidents. The building is organized around a series of “sensorial hinges” at corridor nodes, providing different texture on walls, floor, ceiling, and specialty lighting to help students cope with their disorders. On the west side, the new building contour follows the canopy of the existing trees. On the east side, the design is organized around a courtyard with a sensory garden embracing existing trees while simultaneously creating a safe zone for students. The sensory garden creates a transitional space before entering the main school. The site includes a growing garden and an existing gymnasium, connected by an east/west axis through the school.

Additional Information

Associated Firm

Campo Engineering; Master Consulting Engineers; Engineering Matrix; Skanska Construction

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