Durham School of the Arts Renovation

Durham School of the Arts Renovation

Durham, North Carolina

Durham School of the Arts is a secondary magnet school focused on the visual and performing arts. RATIO’s design for the 1926 middle school building creates a vibrant, collaborative learning community that integrates all aspects of student life, and provides a 21st century school facility within a largely conserved early 20th century building.

Durham School of the Arts
86,130 SF

The renovated middle school building features general instruction classrooms and other facilities for sixth and seventh grades, and art and drama spaces for grades six through 12. The new facilities include an auxiliary gym, two large art labs; a wood shop for drama and theater; two drama classrooms; a costume shop and costume storage area; a 3,700 SF dance studio; and two science labs. A new third-floor dining area has two serving lines and can seat 210 students and staff. The renovated building also features a new roof and windows. Two large exterior courts were covered with skylights to create two-story common areas and art galleries.


Water intrusion problems created by existing interior low roof areas surrounded by two and three-story classroom wings. Additionally, classroom spaces did not meet DPI minimum width requirements due to existing load bearing walls.

Final Outcomes

RATIO’s solution removed the low roofs and installed Kalwall skylights at the roof of the second story, creating two-story interior commons spaces and resolving roof drainage issues at the upper level. We also replaced the load bearing classroom walls with column and beam lines, allowing the corridor width to be added to the classroom spaces to bring them up to standard. New second floor circulation walks are supported by the existing low roof beams, which were left exposed in the commons spaces