CFA 16/JUN/22-5


1300 Allison Street, NW
Washington, DC
United States

D.C. Department of General Services
Dorothy I. Height Elementary School (former Dennison/Burdick Vocational School and Washington Health School buildings)
Renovations and additions to building and landscape
Review Type


Dear Mr. Anderson:

In its public meeting of 16 June conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for renovations of and additions to the Dorothy I. Height Elementary School and its site, located at 1300 Allison Street, NW. The Commission approved the project and provided the following comments for the development of the design.

The Commission members expressed strong support for the planning and disposition of the new addition, which they said would successfully connect the two historic buildings into a unified school; they commended the thoughtful design of the addition in mediating complex sectional differences between the two buildings with a central, light-filled commons area. However, they questioned the addition’s proposed exterior expression, recommending a closer visual relationship between the existing buildings and the new addition, such as through material selections and the profile of details. They recommended using a primary cladding material more similar to the historic brick rather than strongly contrasting; they also requested further study of the proposed angled canopy above the new roof terrace in order to be more deferential to the existing buildings.

For the design of the site, the Commission members expressed support for the relocation of the main entrance to the east side of the new addition and for the consolidation of the playground and parking areas. However, they noted that there appear to be physical impediments to pedestrian circulation as well as vehicular conflicts, such as at the seating area near the new main entrance and along the parking lot to the south; they requested development and documentation of these spatial transitions and entry sequences, particularly with consideration of peak times at the beginning and end of the school day. Finally, they recommended that the design further honor the school’s namesake, the influential civil rights leader Dorothy I. Height, by promoting an understanding of her contributions.

The Commission looks forward to further review of this project. Please coordinate the next submission with the staff, which is available to assist you with the development of the design.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Keith A. Anderson, Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20009

cc: Chris Ambridge, Cox Graae + Spack Architects
Bruno Carvalho, Carvalho and Good
Renee Pean, D.C. Public Schools