Raymond Elementary School

STUDIOS Architecture redesigned Raymond Elementary School in Washington DC, blending historic preservation with modern design elements, including a central courtyard for natural light.

  • area / size 93,000 sqft
  • Completed 2023
  • Located in Washington, D.C., Raymond Elementary School symbolizes the transformative power of design to synthesize the goals of historic preservation and sustainability in an urban educational setting. STUDIOS Architecture, together with design-build contractor MCN Build, led the effort to modernize and expand the existing 1920’s building. The fully modernized space features a new gymnasium, library, classrooms, and an enhanced entry sequence. The 96,000-square-foot school and campus is designed to meet LEED Gold and WELL standards, and is expected to achieve Net Zero Energy certification. 100 years old this year, Raymond Elementary is designed for the next 100 years.

    The modernization project embodies the ideals of inclusive design through its process and results. From the integration of neighborhood-serving programmatic functions and enhanced safety and security for students, to preservation of historic resources and the highest levels of sustainability, the ultimate result is an inclusive learning environment the community can take pride in for generations to come. Working closely with all school, community, and government stakeholders, the design-build team successfully synthesized aspirational goals with budget and time constraints to create a fully integrated solution that is not only designed for the future but is also respectful of the history and legacy of its context.

    The design emphasizes creating strong connections between people and the natural environment. The building is organized around a central play courtyard with convenient access from multiple locations within the building. Major building programs such as the cafeteria, gymnasium, and library all receive borrowed light and have strong view connections to the courtyard, allowing the interior of the school to always feel connected to the outdoors. The central courtyard also serves to improve school safety and security by creating a protected outdoor space where faculty can easily monitor the children and ensure their safety.

    Raymond Elementary serves a diverse and underserved school population, and as part of a city-wide effort to modernize and provide equitable access to educational resources, students now enjoy facilities and technology that is on par with the best private and public schools in the District. The design also recognizes not all students learn in the same way – from providing varying options for seating and height adjustable furniture, to breakout common spaces that allow for informal learning, to traditional classrooms; the school provides diversity of spaces to support individual student needs and encourage each individual to find how they can succeed in learning.

    At its core, the project is designed around resilient and responsible resource management. Preservation of the existing historic building meant that almost half of the area of the project utilized existing structure and facades. As an economic and resilient material, the choice of brick for the dominant facade material for the new addition also allowed critical project funds to go towards the use of renewable materials in many areas throughout the project. Additionally, over 100 geothermal wells, solar canopies, and energy-efficient systems were integrated, all while meticulously preserving the building’s historical integrity.

    Design: STUDIOS Architecture
    Contractor: MCN Build
    Civil Engineer: Bowman Consulting
    Structural Engineer: Elhert Bryan
    Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire Protection Engineer: Global Engineering Solutions
    Landscape Architect: Bradley Site Design
    Photography: Garrett Rowland