Charles R. Drew Charter School

Atlanta, Georgia
Pushing Academic Standards

Founded in 1890, East Lake is one of Atlanta’s most historic neighborhoods. This history includes Atlanta’s second-oldest house, golfer Bobby Jones, and civil rights activist Hosea Williams. In recent years East Lake has enjoyed a rebirth due in part to The East Lake Foundation. Charles R. Drew Charter School school complements this rebirth by acting as a symbol completing the community’s vision to transform lives through a “cradle-to-college” education and break the cycle of poverty.

Built to prepare students for a constantly changing world with global competition and the pervasiveness of technology, its spaces support project-based education, collaboration, and peer-to-peer learning.

More like college than a secondary school, students find open and airy places to connect and learn—a favorite spot is the stadium staircase, which was quickly adopted as “the spot to be.”

And when students leave to go back home, they are met with vast green lawns that point to the city as if to say, “Yes, you can have the future you want.”

Certified LEED Gold, this building utilizes state-of-the-art building materials and systems to create an environment that provides daylighting for learning and maintains energy efficiencies well ahead of the standards.
Fun Fact

Upon seeing the land, each member of our multi-disciplinary team (building, landscape, and brand) immediately agreed on the primary solution: A big, open arc that opens the space (and, hopefully, the hearts of those inside) to views of a sweeping greenscape with downtown in the distance.

Spaces support project-based learning, collaboration, and peer-to-peer learning, creating a sophisticated, flexible, and technology-rich academic environment that feels more like college than secondary school.

Using passive sustainability strategies—land orientation and self-shading features to name a few—is just a natural approach to LEED Gold certification.

To fit in with the educational spirit of the project, Drew is the only sustainable LEED building in the East Lake community. A teaching tool for best practices, the building is helping to create awareness, change lives, and break the cycle of poverty by creating a desirable place in which to live.

Project Team

Manuel Cadrecha
Barbara Crum
John Poelker