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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thinking About: Overhauling the Seaton and Shaw Middle School District

With a handful of D.C. public schools slated for an overhaul in the near-ish future (though the school system's facilities master plan is still very rough at this point), I've been thinking about how Seaton Elementary, Shaw Middle School, their associated athletic fields and parks, and surrounding roadways could be reconfigured to better compliment the neighborhood. Below is my take on it.

The Problems
1. The area's street grid is interrupted by the athletic fields adjacent to Shaw Middle School. As a result, there is a lack of connectivity both east and west and north and south, as Q Street essentially dead ends at Rhode Island Avenue and the 1600 block of 10th Street is non-existent.

2. Shaw Middle School is unattractive and dated in appearance. The building sits back from Rhode Island Avenue and does not contribute much of a presence to the urban streetscape. It has a large, dated-looking concrete terrace along Rhode Island Avenue.

3. Seaton Elementary School is also dated looking, uninviting and unattractive. The building sits slightly askew to Rhode Island Avenue and does not contribute much of a presence to the urban streetscape. It has a large, purpose-less concrete terrace in front and a small, fenced off lawn.

4. The athletic fields at Shaw Middle School and Seaton Elementary, though well utilized, are not very inviting or attractive.

My Proposed Solutions
1. Reconstruct Q and 10th Streets through the athletic fields of Shaw Middle School.

2. Reconstruct the athletic facilities, including the skate park, in the new footprint of Shaw recreation park. Make pedestrian paths through the park connecting the 1600 blocks of 10th Street and 11th Street. Install better landscaping, lighting and fencing.

3. Construct a dog park in the new, larger triangle park created by the re-alignment of Q Street.

4. Demolish and reconstruct Shaw Middle School such that it fronts and runs parallel to Rhode Island Avenue and the newly created 1600 block of 10th Street. Design a rounded corner at Rhode Island Avenue and 10th Street that pays homage to the Asbury Dwellings structure.

5. Create an additional athletic field -- and potentially a track -- along the 900 block of R Street for Shaw Middle School.

6. Demolish and reconstruct Seaton Elementary School such that it fronts and runs parallel to Rhode Island Avenue.

7. Improve the Seaton athletic fields and courts with better landscaping, lighting, fencing, and entrances


Kevin said...

Seems a little grandiose and unnecessary, but good luck buddy.

James said...

What time frame are you advocating ? From the way things are happening already in Shaw, where would the money come from ?

Shaw Rez said...

I should've included in my post and/or post title "if money were no object, this is what I'd do."

I do think the interruption of the street grid is a big problem for the area. Indeed, I believe I read in some Office of Planning document for the area that reconstruction of 10th Street has been identified as an eventual goal. Ideally, this could be executed with the reconstruction of Shaw Middle School, which should occur within the next 5 years.

Regarding the schools, if/when Seaton and Shaw are reconstructed, I think they should both be reconstructed with more of a presence on Rhode Island Avenue, as discussed and keeping in mind the potential for reconstruction of 10th. I think Shaw Middle is slated for total reconstruction in the next 5 years. I think I read that Seaton is slated just for renovation in the next 5 years. As indicated, though, the school's master plan is very much in draft form at this point.

Regarding improvement of the park infrastructure, I think that should always be a goal.

IMGoph said...

and, i would include a tunnel under rhode island for students to get back and forth between the two. it would allow a safe way for the athletic fields of both schools to be utilized by all students in the future.

DC Parent said...

The part I like the best about your plan is retaining those sites as schools. Ideally, charter schools would move in and liven up the place, do a demo and rebuild.