Moody Nolan’s Dunbar Senior High School Receives LEED Platinum Certification


The Dunbar Senior High School in Washington, D.C. designed by Moody Nolan and Perkins Eastman, received LEED Platinum certification, the first and only D.C. public school to reach this level allowing them the title: The “Greenest” New School in the World.

The historic high school in Washington, D.C. was completed in August of 2013, the school was modernized with state of the art features such as photovoltaic panels (PV or solar), geothermal wells, rainwater cisterns and extensive interior daylighting all while preserving its historic dignity.

Dunbar Senior High School Exterior

Founded in 1870, as the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth, the school began in a church basement. It took its modern name in 1916 when the school moved into a Tudor-style, red-brick building on the current site. In the late 1970s the original building was torn down and a cast-concrete, fortress-like structure erected nearby. It never quite fit with the neighborhood and cut off the historic O Street, which ran through the site.

Moody Nolan’s Washington DC office worked closely with the Perkins Eastman team through the design and construction phases. Moody Nolan’s Senior Designer, Jon Guldenzopf, notes, “There is a lot of the look, feel and scale of the old building,” Guldenzopf said. “Bringing back the armory – a wide-open space as you enter the building – was a key feature. The building makes use of available daylight and solar panels on the roof.”

Dunbar Senior High School Interior

Other key features include a cutting-edge theatre design that places a glass wall behind the stage that can serve as a window onto the neighborhood or be closed with curtains or panels. “The theatre has wood-lined panels that create the baffles, and the acoustic quality and the finishes are excellent,” Guldenzopf adds. “And then there’s this glass window that looks out to the houses in the neighborhood. We have never been able to get a client to do this before, and it is just beautiful.”

“The new Dunbar Senior High School is built upon an historic legacy of excellence that demonstrates how schools anchor our communities. That they chose to aim for LEED Platinum speaks volumes about how the community values spaces that enhance students ability to learn,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “Dunbar is using this high-performing building to create a high-performing future, and we are grateful for their leadership.”

To read the press release issued by Perkins Eastman, please click here.