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Payne Elementary School

Located on C Street in the southeast section of Washington, D.C., Payne Elementary School is a pre-school through 5th grade in Ward 6 that has been serving students and members of the local community for more than 117 years. The original 83,800 sq. ft. building was built in 1896, now 68,000 sq. ft. after a fire, it serves as a D.C. flagship school for the deaf, hearing impaired, and special needs children. All colors, materials, spatial organization, and furniture selections were carefully and purposely chosen, taking into consideration the preferences and optimal learning environments for special needs children.

To complement the school’s mission and accommodating the academic program, MMD designed the school with ADA upgrades, hearing impaired educational accommodations, American Sign Language requirements, and the right sizing of classrooms. The classrooms are also equipped with induction loops or electromagnetic communication detection systems that connect to hearing aids and amplify sound inside a classroom. The renovation includes the addition of a connecting bridge and an elevator, linking both wings and making all levels ADA accessible. The project included an upgrade in finishes and HVAC systems for the dining and auditorium, and the incorporation of sustainable technologies and green initiatives designed to achieve LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).


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Washington, DC
DC Public Schools
68,000 sq ft
“Environmental graphics complement the school curriculum and inspire learning in the hallways and communal spaces throughout the school. ”