Our partners at FleischmanGarcia were recognized at Hillsborough County's 39th Annual Planning & Design Awards, which held their ceremony at Armature Works last week. Their project Tampa Heights Elementary won the Jan Abell Award, selected as an outstanding contribution in the historic preservation category.
Built in 1906 by community volunteers, Tampa Heights Elementary was first known as Michigan Avenue Grammar School and later Lee Elementary School. In the wake of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, a failure in the building’s electrical system sparked a fire that destroyed much of the original building.
As part of the rebuilding process, multiple workshops were held to involve the community, teachers, parents, and students. Referencing old postcards, photographs, and laser scans of the fire-ravaged structure, the design team set to work restoring the 1906 school to its former glory. The school’s brickwork was painstakingly taken down one-by-one, cataloged, stored, and reinstalled with the supporting structural skeleton.
Sustainable initiatives were woven into the redesigned site with sidewalks that now wrap the perimeter and offer improved pedestrian and bicycle connections for students living within the community. Flexible learning environments were added including an outdoor classroom, a multi-purpose room with a stage, and a community garden. The three-story school is also equipped with reading nooks, collaboration zones, writable surfaces, display areas, a media center, and STEM classrooms.
The judges loved the great care taken in the preservation of this iconic civic building and the seamless integration of its historic aspects with new architectural details. This school is an exemplary model of how to sensitively preserve and adapt a historic building as a tremendous investment and a modernized community legacy.
Read more about this project here.