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Houston Elementary School
Washington, DC
83,500 SF
Interior Architecture
Reviews and Approvals
District of Columbia Public Schools
DC Department of General Services



Charles H. Houston Elementary School, located in the Deanwood Neighborhood of Washington, DC, was originally constructed in 1962 and designed by Victor B. Spector & Associates. In 2018, plans were prepared for a fully modernized facility that could bring the program into compliance with current DCPS Educational Specifications and reinforce 21st century learning paradigms. Due to existing site constraints, the modernization was undertaken in two phases with the existing 1962 School building fully modernized in Fall 2019.


The project scope included the modernization of first and second floor academic, early childhood, special education, and administrative spaces. Additional programs were renovated to provide up to date teaching spaces, media center, welcome center, administration offices and support. Existing spaces were dramatically reconfigured to replace original dark, internal double loaded corridors with new single loaded perimeter circulation infusing the circulation and adjoining spaces with abundant natural light. The Design utilizes the metaphors of animals and environmental eco-systems to illustrate and reinforce concepts of diversity, community, and social awareness. Wings of the building are identified by animal themes representing South American jungles, the African savannah, and North American woodlands to exemplify how diverse groups can coexist in the same place, at the same time. The use of vibrant color is central to the design of the modernized School, activating the sense of place and creating a welcoming identity within the school, and to the neighborhood. Public art installations play an important role in the school’s thematic and cultural expression as well. Site specific works are built on the foundations of four supporting themes; nature and the natural world, community and unity, inspirational messaging and heroes. These unique and colorful expressions inspire Houston’s young learners and help to create a rich and vital setting that fosters important personal connections and instills great neighborhood pride.

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2909 M Street NW | Washington DC, 20007 202-965-7070
2909 M Street NW | Washington DC, 20007 | 202-965-7070
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