Marie Reed Community Learning Center, Washington, DC

This combination elementary school, health center, and community center is a sprawling low-rise complex at the base of the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. The buildings compromise 162,000 square feet on multiple levels. The site is oriented along 18th Street but also bridges over Champlain Street and runs along part of Wyoming Avenue. It is a hard building and site to understand in terms of orientation and use.


The building was constructed in 1977 to designs by Louis Fry Jr, a Texas born architect who also designed several other buildings in DC. Among his accomplishments, he was the second African American licensed-architect in Texas. Schools seem to have been one of his specialities.

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The materials here are relatively modest brick and concrete in beiges and whites. The complex gives off a Brutalist vibe with exposed rough materials, cavernous entrance areas, and a main plaza with concrete seating areas. These areas, which still largely exist, are a highlight, featuring rounded seating and  a large rectangular picnic shelter.


The complex is currently undergoing a modernization project to be completed in 2017. There has been much discussion on whether to renovate or demolish the school but it seems for now the decision is to keep it.



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