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Hyde-Addison Elementary School

A Contemporary Addition to a Historic Setting

Shinberg.Levinas Architects

Bordered to the south by the Potomac River, Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood lies to the northwest of the US capital. Unlike the city’s iconic government sector with its federal buildings, monuments, memorials and museums, Georgetown is a singularly compact district made up of linear arrays of two- or three-story detached homes, built for the most part during the 18th Century, and a scattering of grander 19th-Century mansions. Paved roads, red brick and colored plaster combine to make it a highly sought-after residential neighborhood.

So any plan to enlarge the Hyde-Addison Elementary School in the center of Georgetown had to come to grips not only with fitting into the existing school facilities but also being accepted by a wider community, proud of its heritage and determined to preserve the special aesthetic and well-knit urban fabric.

The public competition called for projects to modernize the existing 6,500 sq. m facility - 2 two-story brick buildings - and enlarge it to 9,000 sq. m.

From their very first sketches, competition winners
Shinberg.Levinas Architects concentrated on the pivotal balance between uniformity with the existing buildings and stepping outside the norm and deliver innovative, more contemporary architectural solutions. They have achieved just that with a project that comfortably dialogues with its surroundings but also clearly stands out. Echoing the shape, color and materials of the old buildings, the new volume presents as unequivocally contemporary yet intrinsically part of its setting.

The brief required the extension to include a gym with a basketball court, a music room, health suite, library, cafeteria and four new classrooms. The architects opted for a new volume between the two existing buildings of similar height and shape so as to keep the general low-rise character of school and surrounding neighborhood. The overall result is a three-box...

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