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DC People & Places: Black History Spotlight - Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Duke Ellington School of the Arts Blog - DGS Black History Month - Graphic Created By: Simone Andrews

Duke Ellington School of the Arts Spotlight | By James Partlow IV, Digital & Social Media Strategist 

In celebration of Black History Month, we are spotlighting recent Department of General Services (DGS) construction projects that are named after significant Black History People & Places in the District of Columbia, our nation. The first project that we will highlight is the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Ward 2.

Project Overview

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts is the only high school in the District of Columbia that combines a full college preparatory curriculum with intensive pre-professional arts training. With the support of its partners, Ellington serves diverse and talented students from all wards of the city.

Duke Ellington School of the Arts - Photo by James Partlow IV

Students are admitted through an audition and interview process into one of eight majors:

  • Dance
  • Instrumental Music
  • Literary Media and Communications
  • Museum Studies
  • Technical Design and Production
  • Theater
  • Visual Arts
  • Vocal Music

Students perform and exhibit their work at the Kennedy Center, the White House and national and international events.

The grand Classical Revival building on 35th Street in Georgetown’s Burleith neighborhood was completed in 1898. The building was designed and built for Western High School, and was one of the first public academic buildings in the district dedicated specifically to high school education. Over the last century additions have been added to accommodate the growing needs of the school. Today, however, the building no longer adequately provides for the needs of Duke Ellington’s dynamic arts program and an architectural/engineering team will be required to provide the design for the renovation and expansion of the existing historic school.

Duke Ellington School of the Arts Ground Breaking - Photo by James Partlow IV

It is envisioned that new space will need to be added as an “in-fill” addition in order to fully meet programmatic requirements, creating a total of approx. 258,072 sq-ft.

The renovated facility will continue to serve as a magnet school for the performing arts, including a projected 10% growth.

This solicitation was made possible through a design competition held to seek firms that exhibit design excellence and that are capable of transforming the school building into an iconic, 21st century, world-class, arts facility that the school envisions, while respecting the historic character and integrity of the existing building.

Project Details

  • Duke Ellington School of the Arts Modernization Project
  • Overall Project Budget: $172M
  • LEED/Sustainable Design Initiatives: The project goal is to be LEED Silver or better
  • Architects: LBA/CGS, J.V.
  • Design-Build Team: GCS-Sigal, LLC
  • Project Status: Demo and design
  • Ground Breaking:December 19, 2014
  • Project Completion: June 2017

To learn more about DGS’ recent construction project at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

Notable Alumni

  • Dave Chappelle, comedian
  • Ruth Chew, author
  • Michaela Angela Davis, Essence magazine Executive Fashion & Beauty Editor, writer, author, commentator, and speaker
  • Matthew Dickens, actor/singer/dancer and writer/producer/director
  • Barbara J. Fields, historian
  • Johnny Gill, R&B singer
  • Denyce Graves, opera singer
  • Corey Hawkins, Actor, opera singer
  • Simbi Khali, actress
  • Meshell Ndegeocello, bassist, singer
  • Serena Reeder, Actress
  • Wallace Roney, jazz trumpeter
  • Gregory Charles Royal, jazz trombonist, playwright
  • Lamman Rucker, actor
  • Tony Terry, singer
  • Mary Timony, musician
  • Marja Vallila, sculptor
  • Samira Wiley, Actress
  • Rosalyn Coleman Williams, actor

To learn more about DGS’ recent construction project at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.