The revamp will turn the shuttered David T. Howard Building into the new Howard Middle School; the original school was attended by MLK Jr.

The architecture team responsible for the $52 million revival of an Atlanta school attended by Martin Luther King Jr. will mix the building’s historic features with modern flourishes.

The revamp will turn the shuttered David T. Howard Building in the Old Fourth Ward into the new Howard Middle School. Students who attend the overcrowded Inman Middle School will move into the bigger building when the construction project is complete in 2020.

This week the lead architectural firm, Stevens & Wilkinson, released interior renderings that show the preservation plans for the 1920s Howard building and the new construction that will double the size of the school to more than 200,000 square feet.

Renderings of the Howard Middle School project in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward. Renderings provided by lead architect Stevens & Wilkinson.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Howard school reopening is one of Atlanta Public Schools’ most-anticipated and pricey building projects, part of more than $200 million in construction work to be paid for using a one-cent sales tax.

A rendering of the new media center to be built at Howard Middle School in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward. Rendering from Stevens & Wilkinson.
Photo: Stevens & Wilkinson

The school’s prominent location in the fast-growing neighborhood east of downtown near walking and biking trails is one reason for the extra attention. Another is its history. King attended the school as a child from 1936 to 1940, and other famous former students include former Mayor Maynard Jackson and NBA star Walt “Clyde” Frazier. The school has been closed for more than 40 years.

Atlanta Public Schools’ list of construction projects to be paid for using sales-tax money includes a renovation of the David T. Howard Building, shown here in 2015, into a new middle school. The district has already locked in a contract for the Howard renovation, but officials said that other projects in the spending plan will cost more than projected because of greater-than-expected inflation. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“That school has such a great history of … well-known Atlanta people who have done great things for the city,” said Bill Polk, principal and vice president of Stevens & Wilkinson.

A classical-looking administrative wing will be built along John Wesley Dobbs Avenue at the building’s front entrance. The design, which features a series of arched windows and a brick exterior, is similar to what had been planned decades ago but was never built.

Other new construction will include an auditorium, music rooms, classrooms and a kitchen and cafeteria. A glass-walled bridge will connect two wings and close in a courtyard, inside of which will be a new media center.

Renderings of the Howard Middle School project in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward. Renderings provided by lead architect Stevens & Wilkinson.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Polk said the building will have an area designed as an exhibition space to show off mementos and artifacts showcasing its legacy.

The gymnasium, a mid-century addition, also will be refurbished. It will house athletic lockers and feature a new gym floor.

A new bus lane along the south side of the building will cut through the middle of the block.

The general consensus in the Old Fourth Ward, a hotbed of development, has been favorable, said Rebecca Rice, chairwoman of a neighborhood planning group.

The David T. Howard School building, named after the former slave and businessman who donated the land, is shown in this photograph taken on Jan. 10, 2018. Vanessa McCray/AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It’s an area where families are moving in and the number of school-age children is growing, she said. Many residents like the district reopening a historic building and like their children being able to walk to school.

“It’s a big piece of property. It’s been there for a long time, it just wasn’t activated,” she said. “They wanted to see Howard renovated in the Old Fourth Ward instead of building a new school.”

An APS spokesman said the district has not determined what will happen to the Inman Middle School building, about two miles north. In the short-term, from August 2020 through July 2022, the Inman campus will serve as the temporary site for Morningside Elementary School while Morningside is renovated.

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