Gallaudet University Model Secondary School for the Deaf

Gallaudet University Model Secondary School for the Deaf

Setting the Standard for DeafSpace with a World-class Residence Hall

Founded in 1864, Gallaudet University is the world’s only university in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. As such, it’s critical that Gallaudet’s facilities foster a safe and productive environment – an environment where vision and touch are primary means of spatial awareness and orientation, instead of sound. To create this type, Gallaudet’s facilities follow DeafSpace guidelines related to: sensory reach, space and proximity, mobility and proximity, light and color, and acoustics.

All of these elements were carefully considered during our construction of the new Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) residence hall. Faced with an outdated facility for their high school program, Gallaudet hired our DAVIS team to tear down an existing dormitory and build a modern, vibrantly social space in its place. The result is a world-class, three-story residence hall with expansive views of Capitol Hill.

  • Project type
    Residential Education
  • Architect
    Gaudreau, Inc.
  • client
    Gallaudet University

The security and safety protocols were heightened on this job. We used certified flaggers to protect students and faculty who could not hear the noise of our work. 

Stephen Feight, Senior Project Manager, DAVIS

Value Engineering to Maximize Design

Before we even broke ground, a common challenge was brought to our attention. The client was faced with a shrunken budget and needed help reducing construction costs. To help preserve budget without compromising quality, our DAVIS team assessed the project – working collaboratively with all parties as the design-assist consultant. Through our assessment, we were able to submit revised sketches and a redefined scope that fit the client’s budget criteria. Ultimately, we presented over $7M of value engineering opportunities, many of which the client approved. For example, we recommended a heating and cooling tower instead of a four-pipe mechanical system. We also made modifications to the light fixtures, carpeting, tiling, and implemented other energy-saving features. Together with our subcontractors, we successfully reduced costs without compromising the design and functionality.

Building a Sense of Home

In addition to the sweeping views of Capitol Hill and the National Arboretum, the views inside the new MSSD dormitory are equally as impressive. The entire space was designed to enable long, clear sight lines. There are no blind corners; a student can stand in one corner and look down both hallways with ease. This complies with the DeafSpace guidelines – as does the presence of glass perimeter walls that fill the dormitory with natural light.

In terms of capacity, the residence hall consists of 88 double rooms, dozens of shared kitchens, living rooms, libraries, and lounges. One of the entertainment spaces even features a large projection screen to accommodate outdoor movie viewings from the courtyard and terrace. Gallaudet wanted to provide students with a safe, functional and personalized space, and it definitely delivers. 

Photos by Lincoln Barbour

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