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Planet Word

Washington, DC
  • Photo credit: Joseph Romeo Photography

The historic Franklin School, designed by Adolf Cluss and originally opened in 1869, was one of the earliest co-ed high schools. The Renaissance Revival structure, sited across from Franklin Square and named after Benjamin Franklin, has now been reborn as Planet Word, a language arts museum and education space.

A careful renovation of the five-story space introduced a restaurant, offices, a workshop and conference room, retail, auditoriums and galleries, a language laboratory, and rotating exhibits. Sensitive additions to the heavily protected building include a fourth-floor event space connected to a new roof terrace.

  • Photo credit: Joseph Romeo Photography.
  • Photo credit: Joseph Romeo Photography.

The Great Hall is the largest historical space within the building. The ceiling was carefully modified to support the 15-foot diameter LED planet display while also meeting the needed loading capacity for the new event space located directly above in a formerly unused attic.

Silman’s structural scope included strengthening of the existing floor structure for higher live loads, new floor structures, new elevators, and repair and preservation of the historic roof wood trusses to allow the design of seven new galleries in the museum.

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