Washington, D.C. – A team of architecture professionals from the Washington area has spearheaded an initiative to update and renovate the Anacostia Community Outreach Center’s (ACOC) children’s learning center into a state-of-the-art educational facility. The team, led by K. Dixon Architecture Principal Kathy Dixon, included representatives from the Washington Architectural Foundation, and ThinkBox Group LLC. The resulting design is an ergonomically effective space, infused with technological upgrades that will give ACOC students a rich learning environment that encourages creativity and focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and project-based learning. The new learning center will include: a smartboard to facilitate interactive learning activities, custom reading nooks, a stage for student performances and guest presentations, environmentally friendly lighting and fixtures, small group tutoring and reading areas, science lab spaces, and offices with integrated glass touchscreen desktops.
Through a strategic partnership with ThinkBox Group Principal Daron Coates, ACOC applied to and was accepted in the Washington Architectural Foundation’s Community Design Services Program, which provides conceptual, preliminary designs to DC metropolitan-area non-profits and community groups that cannot otherwise afford professional design services. ACOC was very fortunate to secure the services of Kathy Dixon and her firm, which is well respected in the National Capital region.
As an African-American female owner of her own architecture firm, Ms. Dixon was more than willing to assist ACOC in providing this much needed service for our students. “I learned about the opportunity to assist with the ACOC youth facility through Beth Judy of the Washington Architectural Foundation (WAF). Through previous community work projects we collaborated on, she knew that I had an interest in teaching youth and helping the community.” Dixon and colleague James Jordan, of Millennium Design Architects, know the importance of supporting organizations like ACOC in introducing low-income, minority students to STEM and closing achievement gaps through innovative and technologically advanced learning environments. “We believe working with community-based organizations is a privilege and an obligation. Being able to affect people’s lives in a positive way by enhancing the built environment is a highly satisfying aspect of our industry. One of the most important factors in collaborating with these organizations is to ensure that all parties involved have their voices heard and are able to participate in the process”, Dixon said.
The potential impact of this new space can be great; ACOC students will enjoy a facility which rivals that of their higher-income peers and can be utilized to facilitate programming year-round. Dixon has expressed great excitement for the project and its potential impact. “I believe that the design we’ve developed for ACOC succeeds in meeting the need for a flexible space and creates a motivational atmosphere for both the participants and their instructors. The advanced technology, such as smartboards and touch screens, that we incorporated in the design will be exciting for the youth to use. In contrast, the “stage” area will be an ideal location for them to make the most of their own imaginations. Ultimately, it will be exciting to see how the children experience the space and make it their own.”
ACOC staff and students are also very excited to see how a redesign of the learning space could improve their educational experience. The next step is to secure funding for the actual redesign itself. As the lead community organization in the Langston Terrace Dwelling Housing Development, ACOC is working with the District of Columbia Housing Authority for final approval of the redesign.
If you are interested in helping ACOC in their fundraising efforts to bring this state-of-the-art facility to life for our students, please visit anacostiaoutrech.org to learn more and donate.