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Tour: MacFarland Middle School Building

STUDIOS Architecture and MCN Build were selected by the DC Department of General Services and the DC Public Schools to design and implement the full modernization and renovation of MacFarland Middle School in DC's Petworth neighborhood. The building’s original construction dates back to 1923; however, it had not seen a major renovation since the 1970s.

An immense boiler room served the existing middle school and adjacent Roosevelt High School. Modernization of the building allowed for the decommissioning of the boiler room and the relocation of the remaining building systems to alternative places including the roof. This cavernous space was transformed into a new state-of-the-art media center for the school that includes a maker space, technology and collaboration spaces.

The design also included revamping the entry sequence to the building by integrating accessible ramps, a new entry canopy, and a double-height entry lobby. Additionally, the auditorium balcony has been transformed into an open collaborative space, dubbed the “Forum,” that overlooks both the entrance to the school and the existing historic auditorium.

Presented by: Rachel Kenney, AIA, LEED AP

Presenter Bio: Rachel Kenney, AIA, LEED AP, is an Associate Principal at STUDIOS Architecture. She thrives on projects that combine design and critical thinking. She approaches each project from the perspective that it is completely new, allowing her to address design challenges with fresh thinking while leveraging and building upon the experiences that contribute to solving such challenges. Her unique approach is further amplified by her ability to communicate with project stakeholders and consultants to keep everyone the same page and execute each project with the best possible results. Kenney holds an M. Arch. from Syracuse University and a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Virginia and is a registered architect in the District of Columbia.

Organized by: AIA|DC Committee on Architecture for Education

Co-Sponsored by: STUDIOS Architecture & MCN Build


After attending this course, participants will be able to:

  • Explore adaptive reuse strategies for 1920s-era institutional buildings, which typically have large, outmoded spaces like boiler rooms and hybrid structural systems of load-bearing masonry and steel;
  • Describe design strategies for 21st-century learning environments, including flexible-use spaces and technology integration;
  • Identify sustainability strategies for adaptive-reuse modernizations to help meet DC's mandated LEED Gold benchmark for public buildings; and
  • Discuss and analyze security needs for a new public middle school in an urban area and explore how they can be integrated into a open, welcoming entry sequence.