Newman Architects

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Latinx owned

New Haven, CT


Walter P. Carter/Lois T. Murray Elementary/Middle Schools

This new public school building in Northeast Baltimore’s Wilson Park/Pen Lucy neighborhoods combines the student populations of two existing elementary/middle schools. It also co-locates the Lois T. Murray School, which serves students with significant cognitive disabilities from across the district.

The project site has steep topography rising well over two stories. The site’s urban context, topography, existing building location, and need for onsite bus drop-off, parking, and service access resulted in a constrained area for the potential building footprint.  The solution of a wide floorplate nestles the building into the center of its site and instills spatial efficiency and flexibility. This site arrangement also enabled construction to begin while school remained in session in the existing building.

The low-rise massing, visual connective tissue of brick, and casual rhythm of ribbon windows help the large building fit into its residential Baltimore rowhouse context. The size and placement of windows indicate function: larger windows for gathering spaces, smaller for classrooms, and articulated slots to mark vertical circulation. Contrasting light and dark brick brings a modern character to a traditional school building material, highlighted with a pattern of shimmering manganese that shifts color throughout the day. The angles of the building’s wings partially enclose outdoor rooms containing playgrounds, an outdoor classroom, and community plaza.

The two co-located school programs have separate entrances, distinct but both approached from the public plaza with a lush constructed wetland that has become a destination in the neighborhood. The classroom wings are connected by destination program elements and joint service areas: cafeterias, gyms, media center, and community rooms. The plan organization allows the two school programs to operate independently and for the community spaces to function after school hours.

Emblematic of the goals of Baltimore’s 21st Century School Buildings program, the building emphasizes collaborative and interactive learning in flexible and adaptable spaces. The classroom blocks are organized so that age cohorts each have their own “home” with bright, daylit perimeter classrooms surrounding a shared collaborative zone and teacher offices. Lois T. Murray serves special needs students with six special education classrooms, a life skills lab, sensory rooms, art studio, music room, gym, cafeteria, full health suite, and family consultation and resource areas. In the lobby, a second-floor bridge connects the two upper wings of Walter P. Carter and makes visible the choreography of students moving through the building. 

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Status: Built
Location: Baltimore, MD, US
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: JV Partner: Penza Bailey Architects, a studio of PRIME AE Group, Inc.
Photographer: Francis Dzikowski