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Brookland Middle School

Washington, D.C.


District of Columbia Public Schools


107,000 sf, 540 students


LEED Platinum


New Construction


Vegetative Roof


Hartman-Cox Architects

Charged with the creation of a school community serving the educational needs of Washington DC’s Ward 5 students, Brookland Middle School encompasses an Academic Community with a central focus on the Arts and World Languages. The school provides a safe environment in which students are free to interact, to be creative, and to pursue their individual interests within a 21st century learning environment.

Middle schools must instill a sense of the security and closeness familiar to elementary age children while simultaneously allowing for a greater degree of independence and responsibility as they move into their teenage years.

Brookland responds to the challenge by breaking down the school building into smaller + secure grade-level clusters, each with a distinctive identity, linked together into a unified whole with shared hubs. These unique hubs – Performing Arts, World Languages, Media Center, Physical Education and Fine Arts - are areas in which students interact across grade levels.

A rooftop, outdoor classroom, solar PV array, vegetative roof, underground cisterns, pervious pavers, geo-exchange heating and cooling, and plenty of daylight provide hands-on learning opportunities in this LEED Platinum school. Mosaic murals by a local artist spark imagination and showcase the diverse cultures in the community.

Arts Integration

Home to Grades 6-7, Brookland MS is a compact building of three floors, connected by bright, soaring corridors and open stairs. 

The Black Box

Responding to a strong desire from the school to include an auditorium, the design team proposed instead a multifunctional Black Box Theatre that offers a highly flexible area for a variety of student and community music, dance and lecture programs. A large curtainwall provides dynamic visual connection to the neighborhood and daylight to the space when it functions as a learning commons. 

Everywhere you look, there's a sustainable feature. These features are teaching-tools and interactive learning labs. Most importantly, the students were active stakeholders in the design process

DC DGS Sustainability Director

Arts in the Park

Together with the Turkey Thicket Recreational Center, Brookland MS forms a vital urban community hub. The building is designed for extensive afterhours use of the performance spaces and gymnasium.  Celebrating the Arts, there are several public art installations throughout the school. With themes including local Brookland history, environmental sustainability, and celebration of the arts and diversity.

Closing Thoughts

In corridors, common spaces, and outdoor classrooms, students see and learn from each other, developing a sense of themselves as part of the larger school community.