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School Board chooses ‘Pinwheel Concept’ for Minnie Howard Campus

With little discussion, the Alexandria School Board last Thursday unanimously approved the “Pinwheel” concept at the T.C. Williams High School Minnie Howard campus.

The decision over the High School Project took two-and-a-half years in the making, and the $149.5 million Pinwheel was chosen over two other concepts.

Construction on the five-story facility is scheduled to begin in June 2022 and be finished by September 2024, during which time construction will occur on open space at the school. That means that students will have to do physical activities off-site, and staff and construction workers may have to park elsewhere.

“ACPS will explore nearby properties that are likely to have parking vacancies during school operating and construction hours,” ACPS said in a staff report. “During construction the athletic fields and courts will be displaced and will need to be accommodated off-site. ACPS is to explore holding physical education classes at the King Street Campus, Chinquapin Park and alternate locations.”

The Pinwheel is so named since it organizes “learning neighborhoods” and future athletic facilities in orbit around the heart of the school. It also includes a plan for an aquatics facility that is currently unfunded. Additionally, there will be no affordable housing co-located at Minnie Howard, since the Board voted against it in February.

The school will hold at least 1,600 students and continue as a satellite campus for T.C. Williams High School, which will be renamed Alexandria City High School on July 1.

“Community use of, and access to the building will be supported through the creation of community access zones that will allow portions of it to be safely used during and outside of school hours,” notes a 200-page report submitted to the Board. “These resources may include the gyms, the ‘Forum’, the Library/Learning Commons, an aquatics center, and other services that may be provided by the Alexandria Health Department and Department of Community and Human Services.”

The project will now continue into another design phase until construction begins in June 2022.

Images via ACPS

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