Balfour Beatty wins $127m contract to transform Washington DC’s Randall School

Balfour Beatty has won a $127m contract to turn the historic Randall School – a middle school built in 1906 for African Americans in then-segregated Washington, DC – into an arts campus with a new, 12-storey apartment building behind it.

The UK-headquartered contractor will renovate the school’s three brick buildings and build the U-shaped apartment building that will have 492 units.

After closing in 1978, the Randall School was used as a shelter for homeless people, but then fell into neglect.

The property has been the target of arts-based real estate schemes since the mid-2000s.

Two have failed and this is the third, initiated when Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group acquired the site in August 2019.

Lowe formed a joint venture with developer Mitsui Fudosan America to create "Museum Place" on the site.

Its plan was for the campus to provide a "second home" for the Miami-based Rubell family’s acclaimed contemporary art collection.

The 50,000 square-foot site will also have office space for arts or non-profit organisations.

After closing in 1978, the Randall School was used as a shelter for homeless people, but fell into neglect (FU FUN/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Balfour Beatty said it had been providing preconstruction services for the renovation project since 2016.

This summer, it was contracted for "early raze work" of the existing Randall School buildings, now complete.

Balfour Beatty is the design-build contractor on the project and will work under assignment with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners, LLP.

Matt Dye, Balfour Beatty senior vice president in the Mid-Atlantic, said: "In conjunction with our partners the Advisory Neighbourhood Commission, we look forward to delivering a new residential living building to this cultural community [in] Washington, DC."

The concept design was approved unanimously by the Historic Preservation Review Board and the Advisory Neighbourhood Commission.

Museum place will have gallery space for local art as well as pieces from the Rubell collection. There will also be a bookstore, café and an outdoor dining terrace.

Scheduled for delivery in spring 2023, the project will have around 130 workers onsite at peak, Balfour Beatty said.

Top image: Artist’s render of the new development (Supplied by Balfour Beatty)

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