Coolidge High School Greenhouse Garden

Outdoor Classroom Come to Life

Coolidge High School

To develop the next generation of planners, urban designers, and architects, NCPC staff members often contribute time and expertise to programs for students of all ages in the nation’s capital. One such project that is nearing completion involves students, school administrators, and others who are committed to improving the Calvin Coolidge High School campus in Northwest Washington.


NCPC staff Elizabeth Miller and Sarah Moulton partnered with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Potomac Chapter to create outdoor rooms at Coolidge High for students to connect with the natural environment and provide healthy community green spaces. The campus is located at 6315 5th Street, NW. The project is also enabling NCPC staff to further one of the Six Big Ideas outlined in the agency’s joint CapitalSpace Plan: Improving Public Schoolyards.

The Coolidge High project also caught the attention of the national American Society of Landscape Architects. The ASLA coordinates a service-oriented project in the host city of its annual conference, which was held this year in Washington from September 10-14. Through an established relationship between ASLA's Potomac Chapter and the Architecture Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentoring Program, the Coolidge endeavor was chosen as this year’s Legacy Project. The Legacy Project is a collaborative effort to provide outdoor environmental education opportunities, enhance school grounds, improve sustainability and aesthetic qualities, and provide an outdoor space that the students and community can be proud of.

The partnership with ASLA's Potomac Chapter will advance efforts that ACE, the high school, and the Calvin Coolidge Alumni Association (CCAA) previously began in order to renovate and reuse the school’s greenhouse. The plans will transform the greenhouse, originally constructed in 1938, into a sustainable classroom for environmental education programs. To learn more about the project, view this video.

Work got underway in April 2010 during a community design day that saw the creation of an outdoor Coolidge High School Campus Master Plan and Greenhouse Garden. NCPC staff, along with ASLA Potomac Chapter volunteers, and more than 50 students, neighbors, teachers, and alumni worked together to envision a future campus that incorporates sustainable design elements and spaces that can better connect the campus with the surrounding neighborhood.

The master plan identifies short- and long-term projects the school and Alumni Association can use to guide implementation of an engaging and sustainable learning environment. Drawings prepared for the first phase include plans for a greenhouse garden and outdoor classroom. The DC Office of Public Education Facilities Management will install the infrastructure in September.

Coolidge Greenhouse Garden

Greenhouse Garden design