SSOE completed the redesign and historic rehabilitation of the empty David T. Howard School, once attended by notable African American luminaries such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., into a modern middle school in the heart of Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
The $52 million project, which began in early 2017, includes an administrative wing based on an originally designed element that was never built, a four-level classroom addition, media center, auditorium, music wing, and kitchen and cafeteria.
The design team’s approach focused on the existing plan diagram to ensure the building’s historic features were maintained. The new addition connects to the existing building with elements that keep the existing building’s brick visible and joins all the building’s components.
The school is a four-story concrete frame building with brick cladding. The floor plan is a simple “U” shape with corridors connecting the classroom wings. The main entrances along the bottom of the “U” are also identified by decorative brick and stone details. The existing classroom building reflects the original layout as much as possible, and the new classroom wing consists of core, science, and music classrooms; the kitchen and cafeteria; and an auditorium.
SSOE designed a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC system with 100% outdoor air for the classroom portions of the building, including the historic building. The VRF system allowed the design team to minimize ductwork in the classrooms and maintain the existing high ceilings in the historic classrooms and corridors. Because the VRF outdoor units weigh less than conventional systems, the design team was able to minimize structural modifications to the historic building, saving cost and time. The areas served by VRF are paired with packaged roof top dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS) with energy recovery. The new DOAS and VRF HVAC systems designed for the project will save energy over the years to come and contribute to an optimal indoor environmental quality for the students and staff and give each space served the ability to control space environmental conditions.