Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School
Located within downtown Atlanta’s Grant Park neighborhood, the renovation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School is the result of a competition by Atlanta Public Schools to reimagine a neglected urban school. Originally built in 1973, the Brutalist-inspired building required major upgrades including a more defined main entry/administration, bringing daylight into existing classrooms, and new athletic fields. The design solution recognizes the owner’s limited budget in addressing these major upgrades while also relocating and improving shared components that include the Auditorium, Cafeteria, and Media Center.
The site’s relationship to an existing park on the South side of the school informed a new, more defined main entry that includes the construction of an all-glass 2-story administration program, along with a student plaza and access road. An existing Cafeteria and Media Center, buried within the school and away from natural daylight, moved to the perimeter of the building, while a new auditorium relocates in their former place. A new student commons occupies the former open auditorium footprint while becoming a newly found space within the heart of the school. In an effort to bring more natural daylight into existing classrooms, vertical windows are cut into the concrete façade with projecting colored fins. This approach recognizes the original architecture style, while giving the school a fresh, vibrant look. Boldly painted environmental graphic treatments in key areas throughout the building provide a backdrop for the MLK narrative while renewing the school’s strong identity and inspiring students.