Rendering for Meridian Public Charter School *Addition* Coming to 13th and V St, NW

Rendering of alley view courtesy of Bowie Gridley Architects

Back in July ’11 we learned that Meridian Public Charter school would be moving into the old Harrison School at 13th and V St, NW. They got their financing – from a press release:

“The historic Harrison School building has become the next development in Washington, D.C.’s dynamic U Street neighborhood. A $15.5 million renovation adds 12,000 square feet to the existing 49,000 square foot structure to serve hundreds of families and 530 children from early childhood through eighth grade at Meridian Public Charter School.

Meridian Chairman Ron Ridker explained the school’s commitment to the U Street area. “The Manhattan Laundry building has served us very well since our inception twelve years ago. We could have found a good permanent home for Meridian in other parts of the city, but waited until an appropriate building close to our current location came along, so we could continue serving the community we grew up with. The Manhattan Laundry space will soon be available for other uses.”

Primary funding for Meridian’s new home was provided through TRF’s Chase New Markets Tax Credit Charter School Fund, created in partnership with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) and Chase. A fifty-year lease signed with the District of Columbia, construction began this week at 13th and V Streets, N.W. for completion in August of 2012.

In addition to its premier financing partners, Meridian has assembled a top team: Forrester Construction, Bowie Gridley Architects, Building Hope, and Brailsford & Dunlavey.”

Current alley view

What do you think of the addition renderings? You can see how the property looks now from the front here.

Alley view

Alley view

33 Comment

  • Looks totally incongruous with the existing building. DO NOT LIKE. AT ALL.

    Are they messing with the original building?? I don’t see any turrets in the rendering.

    • You’re looking at a rendering of the alley-facing addition, so really, who cares about turrets in the back. The front facade facing 13th street will hopefully be kept intact and spruced up.

  • No windows to speak of??? Let’s learn from our mistakes. Schools are not jails.

  • I dont get this at all, it looks nothing like the building currently there. Is there any type of review process they have to go through????

  • These renderings are of the old back alley and empty space only. The historic Harrison building is being restored completely along with the addition and security features in the alley. Turrets and windows will stay — along with much-improved natural light.

  • You have got to be kidding. This would be totally out of place at 13th & V. It is the ugliest thing I have ever seen. The ANC should step in and block this monstrosity.

    • good thing you’re not being dramatic.

    • I have been to a lot of community meetings but I had not seen these renderings. Yet pretty much any user of that space would have built up where Meridian did, so no surprises there.

      It’s completely congruous with the modern Union Row building that shares the alley with this rear facade.

      I wish the Merdian PCS people luck. Using that historic building will be a big win for the neighborhood.

  • It’s the alley.

  • Not sure it makes a lot of sense to invest in schools in an area that already has a bunch of existing schools and a rapidly declining population of school age children (the yuppies moving in have drastically lot fewer kids than the people who used to live in the neighborhood).

  • Very cool. What should go in the Manhattan Laundry space?

  • Meridian Public Charter Schools and the Douglas Development landlord are considering offers now for the Manhattan Laundry building space. A nationally known broker has been hired to make the eventual lease/sub-lease transaction work for all parties.

  • True, the U Street area is adding condo dwellers with smaller families. Charters like Meridian have the flexibility to keep drawing from Ward 1 or go more District-wide since charters are not bounded geographically.

  • Guess I’m in the minority here as I like it. Much prefer a contemporary addition like this than a pale imitation of an older style. Worry about enough light and windows for classrooms but perhaps that area is a gym or something. But I think the building and cladding are handsome and will actually work well in that setting.

  • Addition in open alley space will house a brand-new gym and multi-purpose room.

  • Approval Process: CFA, HPRB, and ANC have all approved.

    The school has met with several neighborhood organizations and presented these renderings along with floor plans starting in June.

    @Michael- It does not make sense to invest in schools? It is a school building and is being paid for by the school. Should it be knocked down and turned to yuppy condos while Meridian continues to teach kids in a factory?

    • Paid for by the school? You mean paid for with our tax dollars? Of course it makes sense to invest in schools. It also makes sense to plan wisely. I have no interest in this and don’t claim to know projected school attendance, but your comment was ignorant.

    • The ANC approval had major caveats about the alley, and in particular its somewhat nutty parking proposal. Did the school ever address those, or just run over the process??

      I personally think the addition looks out of scale and wonder who they paid for a variance without hearings or public process, but I suppose a politically connected entity like Building Hope can get what it wants. (Its “investment partners” include The Sallie Mae Corporation, District of Columbia State Education Office and the Walton Family Foundation.)

  • No Windows? All windows on the building are staying and there will be windows on the addition. Are we all looking at the rendering above? How is this not clear?

    • Because we can’t discern whether that wavy sheet is metal or glass. I’m guessing it’s metal because of the few paned windows on the side. I’d be surprised if the entire wall was a big window.

  • The Harrison school building has been underutilized for a long, long time. Glad to see that outside capital and expertise are backing cool and historic redevelopment in our neighborhood.

  • The rendering shows people walking right where they’ll get hit by cars leaving that condo building. And no, the large wall is not glass; the windows are clearly on the edges.

  • How dangerous is the alley behind the vacant building today in terms of people getting hit by cars from the condos and town houses, vagrancy, robberies, public drinking, and assaults? Third District has numbers on vehicular accidents and the like and I think that they are already quite a bit lower than in other parts of 3D. Not sure those numbers will go up with a well-lit alley behind a restored school building. Lt. Jova from 3D would know more. It’s his beat.

    • When I walk my dog there’s a LOT of evidence of public drinking. And I am aware of two attempted house robberies, at least two attempted and/or successful car prowls, and one attempted Vespa theft all in that set of alleys in the past year or so. But I think the comment about the pedestrians was to point out the relative silliness of the rendering, not to cause anyone to pester our hard working local police officers.

  • I have followed this project closely. The addition on the rear of the building is indeed a gymnasium with a cafeteria below. The curving wall is not glass. In gymnasiums where there are balls and equipment flying around, a lot of glazing is not advisable. In fact, direct sunlight in a gymnasium can hurt the operation of activities within the space. You can’t catch a ball with sun in your eyes. The cafeteria below the gym will have plenty of glass. The exterior of the existing building is being restored and the interior is being modernized to meet the needs of a meaningful place of learning. ALL classrooms will have a great deal of natural light.

    This is a good example of contextual architecture. It is completely respectful of the existing building but looks forward with the addition. The addition draws from the existing building’s scale and proportion and does not try to overtake or shine above. There is nothing wrong with something being different. In my opinion, buildings in DC don’t try to be different enough. A building can be referential and respectful without mimicking. DC seems to be the last major city in the country to accept the fact that over time, the way people live, learn and work changes. Look at our cars, planes, medicine, etc. I don’t hear anyone say they want to drive their model T to the hospital so their doctor can bleed them for their fever. We grow and we progress. This doesn’t mean we don’t respect and cherish the past, it just means we don’t always need to duplicate it.

    DC makes it very difficult for the project team to be progressive. There are numerous hoops to jump through. Look at the numerous generic condo buildings in the Logan/14th St corridor. I would bet that the design of these buildings didn’t start out that way.

    I’m glad that the Meridian School is building this building and I’m thrilled they had the balls to go for it!

  • Councilmember Jim Graham and several U Street area residents will attend a meeting Meridian Public Charter School (PCS) has organized for Thursday, December 1 at 6:30 P.M. at Meridian’s current location in the Manhattan Laundry building at 1328 Florida Avenue.

    The Meridian PCS project team will provide a comprehensive update on the Harrison School redevelopment for the greater U Street neighborhood.

    Please mark your calendars if you are interested in attending to learn more about the project and to share your views about the redevelopment of the historic Harrison School building for Meridian’s school children.

  • Thanks Councilmember Graham and everyone for taking time to share concerns and ideas!

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