A rendering of the new media center to be built at Howard Middle School in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward. Rendering from 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
“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.
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
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.
Atlanta school construction projects to be complete by fall 2019:
Beecher Hills Elementary
Hollis Innovation Academy
Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy
Famous former students of Atlanta’s David T. Howard School
Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader
Maynard Jackson, first African-American mayor of Atlanta
Walt “Clyde” Frazier, NBA star and basketball hall of famer
Eldrin Bell, former Atlanta police chief and Clayton County Commission chairman
Mildred McDaniel Singleton, only U.S. woman to win a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in track and field
Lonnie King, student civil rights organizer
Vernon Jordan, adviser to President Bill Clinton and former president of the National Urban League
Herman Russell, real estate entrepreneur and first black member of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce