Baltimore Design School is a new Baltimore City Public combined middle and high school with a focus on Fashion Design, Architectural Design, and Graphic Design. The new $19 million, 115,000-square foot school is created from an abandoned historic factory building. Built in 1914, the building was first designed to serve as a machine shop for a bottle cap company and was then a coat factory for decades. The building was shuttered in 1985, and remained abandoned and a major blighting influence on the city’s burgeoning Arts District.
The building’s transformation from blight to a state-of-the-art facility within the confines of a minimal budget demonstrates the power of design through exposed systems and best practices for historic renovation, adaptive reuse, educational design, and sustainable design.
The design exposes and contrasts the building’s historic fabric with modern interventions. The new exterior additions are modern and restrained in expression, clearly demarcating the difference between new and old. The interior aesthetic is that of an open industrial loft where existing walls and structure that remain are cleaned and sealed and left exposed to view.
The open-ended and creatively-adapted environment supports and frames the unique, design-thinking focused curriculum of the school. Throughout the building are areas that encourage interaction and the exchange of ideas. The building is intended to act as a canvas that promotes a dialogue inside and outside of the classroom.
The school is the first purpose-built public school in Baltimore City in decades and aims to be a national model for design education.