Commonwealth Architects

Baker School

Size: 65,000 sf
Services: Historic Tax CreditsArchitectureInterior Design

Commonwealth Architects designed the adaptive re-use of the Baker School in Richmond for Enterprise Community Partners. The existing three-story building, located on the block defined by Baker, Cherry, St. John and St. Paul’s streets, was constructed in 1939 and designed by Marcellus Wright & Son Architects.

Originally a public school facility for the City of Richmond, the building was repurposed for affordable, senior independent living as part of a larger effort to find new accommodations for the residents of Fay Tower. The central challenge of the design was to make the building accessible, as the main floor is elevated 6’ above street level.  To solve this, an exterior elevator tower was added on the Baker street side which serves as the new primary entrance. The project provides 50 one-bedroom, universally accessible, apartments ranging from 640 to 840 SF, many located in former classrooms and retaining character defining elements like blackboards and glazed tile wainscoting.  All units received modern kitchens and baths with quartz counters. The 5,500 SF former gymnasium was converted to a community meeting space, served by a new catering kitchen.

The project received both state historic rehabilitation tax credits from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits funding through Virginia Housing.

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