The Detroit School of the Arts represents the culmination of a decade-long dream. When the first High School for the Fine and Performing Arts opened in 1992 with a class of ninety ninth graders, the school’s vision was to be a small public high school, open to the entire high school and emphasizing academics and arts. In the time since, the DSA has grown to an enrollment of 520 students in grades nine through twelve, and is considered one of the nation’s finest schools of its type. Close to 100% of each year’s students are accepted to college, with graduates going on to some of the country’s finest institutions.
In the upgrading of its facilities, the school has been merged with Detroit’s Communication and Media Arts High School to serve as the district’s premier arts magnet. DSA supports a full range of music, drama, dance, and visual art programs, as well as television and radio facilities. Through creative partnerships with Detroit Public Television and Radio, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and other local institutions, students will be immersed in a full range of performance and production opportunities. Directly adjacent to the renovated Orchestra Hall, the High School is a key player in the Detroit Empowerment Zone, an urban revitalization program serving the downtown area.
The project team for the DSA was presented with numerous challenges, fitting 285,000 gsf of program space, including an 800-seat auditorium, 200-seat recital hall, band, choral, and orchestra rehearsal rooms, classrooms, and television and radio studios, into a 6-story urban site. The project architect was Hamilton Anderson Associates of Detroit Michigan. Schuler Shook (Chicago, IL) served as the Theatre Consultant. Kirkegaard provide acoustics consulting services for the project.
The bold vision of the Detroit School of the Arts has been hailed as a sign of the forward-thinking future of the school district. The project was recently awarded an AIA Detroit Building Award for its innovative design and, in addition, received a LEED Certification at the Certified Level with 29 points. This makes the facility the first LEED Certified building in the City of Detroit. The spirit of the project was best summarized in the jury comments: “This bold, fresh, beautiful project; with all of its optimism should renew the spirit of its school district as it becomes an important center of its community.”