Learning From the City

By Charles Linn, FAIA

Urban Public schools are possibly the most challenging of the K-12 building type. Many of the districts where they must be built find that costs continue to grow faster than their tax bases. Good building sites are difficult to come by. And while the community often clings tightly to old buildings that symbolically represent prosperity in times gone by, these facilities are invariably obsolete and often practically beyond repair. Student populations in urban areas are usually ethnically diverse and often impoverished. Yet, in examining several dozen school projects submitted to us this year, we found the majority of well-designed projects were located in urban areas. Our seven case studies are from all over the U.S. and range from a brand-new high school dedicated to the biological sciences in Phoenix to a temporary grade school that is located in a hospital annex building in New York City. Great urban schools are worth the investment if for no other reason than that they represent progress and give hope to communities that sometimes need it desperately.


Case Studies

Jeremiah E. Burke High School
Boston, Massachusetts
Schwartz/Silver Architects


Roy Romer Middle School
North Hollywood, California
Johnson Fain


Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School
Washington, D.C.
Hickok Cole Architects


Booker T. Washington High School
Dallas, Texas
Allied Works Architecture


PS 59 — The Beekman Hill International School
New York City
Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn


Phoenix Union Bioscience High School
Phoenix, Arizona
Orcutt | Winslow


Washington Technology Magnet Middle School
St. Paul, Minnesota
Cuningham Group