Comments at Arlington School Board Meeting on April 5,2018.
While I share the Westover community’s opposition to the Standalone Scheme, I am dismayed at its preferred option–the Integrated Scheme–because it will require demolition of a building less than ten years old.
Not only is this environmentally wasteful, it also once again throws the County’s commitment to historic preservation under the bus. The Reed School was redesigned in 2009 by the prestigious Georgetown architectural firm Cox, Graae + Spack, which preserved the original structure when it reconfigured the site to include both a library and a school. This is the same firm that has renovated or restored numerous notable DC area structures over the past twenty years, including:
• Daughters of American Revolution Constitution Hall, 1997
• GWU Law School, 2002
• Arlington Glebe House, 2004
• Arlington Arts Center, 2004
• DC’s Eastern Senior HS, 2010
• DC’s Woodrow Wilson HS, 2011
• Duke Ellington School of the Arts, 2017
PFRC/BLPC argued that preservation is not an option, because the 2009 structure, which was designed to accommodate a second floor, is inadequate for a 725 seat school. So a second structure would be needed to house additional classrooms, expanding the school’s footprint. While footprint is a major consideration in an area as congested as Westover, the preferred option is not the solution.
First, the four story structure itself is likely to prove inadequate in a few years. When that happens the County will have to build out. Second, the Integrated Scheme will impose a hardship on grade school kids by requiring them to march up four flights of stairs every day.
Also I find it irresponsible that the Superintendent is recommending a design that is already $6 million over budget at a time when the County’s commercial revenue base is shrinking, and the County Manager himself has sent out an SOS to cut costs.