Historic replication windows from Graham Architectural Products played a significant role in the restoration of Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School.
Historic replication windows from Graham Architectural Products played a significant role in the restoration of Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School.

Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School – Washington, D.C.’s longest continuously operating public high school – is a landmark in a city full of them. It sits on a two-square-block parcel high on a hill, with breathtaking views of our nation’s capital and its monuments.

Built a century ago and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Cardozo was designed by William B. Ittner, referred to by author Virginia Evans McCormick as “the most influential man in school architecture in the United States.”

But time took its toll and the District of Columbia Public Schools had not been able to maintain the building, which made its recent renovation one of the more remarkable comebacks in a city that’s seen its share.

The school – now called Cardozo Education Campus – has undergone a dramatic renovation, and reopens its doors as a LEED Silver school.

The completed project was so extraordinary that the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Office/Office of Planning gave it the Historic Preservation Review Board Chair’s Award, citing “its exceptional design work in restoration, rehabilitation and new construction affecting historic District property.”

This was no small project. All told, it involved the complete modernization of 355,400 square feet of existing historic infrastructure and a 42,000-square-foot gymnasium addition.

Adding to its strikingly fresh appearance are 1,100 Graham Architectural Products windows – a mix of Series S2200 double hung, Series S6800 fixed, and Series S6500 casement and fixed windows.

The building’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and the need for National Park Service (NPS) approvals made the window portion particularly challenging.

The design team turned to Graham because, as Window Design Consultant Randy Boardman explained, “Graham specializes in historic windows – AW-rated historic replication windows – and we do a lot of school work.”

Boardman was able to design a workable solution and the Graham manufacturing team was able to overcome a tight timeline, one that Lee Becker, FAIA, of Hartman-Cox Architects described in one article as, “Start-to-finish, design and construction, 18 months.”

“It was a very historic job with a tight schedule and we knew we had to get things done, so everybody worked together to pull it out,” said Keith Walter, president of Heavy Commercial Windows.

Having previously partnered with Graham on a number of projects, nothing about the job surprised him. “Graham is an excellent company,” Walter said. “Everyone’s friendly and knowledgeable. In this day and age in this business, you don’t really have a lot of time for people who don’t know what they’re doing.”

Boardman wrapped up the project by saying, “Bottom line: This was a huge, complex job and even though it was a scramble, we helped to bring the project in on time. At Graham, we take good care of our clients. They get what they want, when they want it.”