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Africentric Early College School Academic Building

Posted: January 12, 2018 | Projects

The Columbus Africentric Early College (CAEC) School was relocated from its downtown location to a 55-acre campus on the near east side of Columbus, just south of John Glenn Columbus International Airport. The site was formerly separate parcels containing local streets and alleys that served multi-family housing. The housing was razed and the site was acquired for use by Columbus City Schools.

CAEC is a capstone project for Columbus City Schools’ recent building program. The PK-12 school engages students and their families – starting at primary grades and continuing through high school – with rigorous, challenging, and accelerated coursework.

CAEC offers students entering 6th through 12th grade an opportunity to earn a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science transfer degree from Columbus State Community College, upon completion of the Dual Enrollment/Higher Education Partnership program.

The campus is designed to include two on-site zones for very distinct uses of academics and athletics. The entire construction project consisted of three phases over a 2½-year period.

Phase 1 focused on the relocation/realignment of site utilities, which was necessary to complete the site assembly and have proper infrastructure in place to support subsequent development in a timely fashion. Phases 2 and 3 involved some overlap.

Phase 2 involved athletics (baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, an 8-lane track and field complex, a football stadium, a concessions building, and a 2,100-seat basketball venue). The buildings associated with phase 2 would not require a lengthy construction period, but grass needed to be established on associated athletic fields one year prior to their use – which is the cause of the overlap for Phase 2 and 3.

Phase 3 consisted of a 139,400-square-foot academic building for 1,000 students, which is the focus of this case study.

The academic building was designed to be environmentally responsive and achieve LEED® Gold. Sustainable design features include daylight harvesting, appropriate energy- and lighting-saving devices, water conserving fixtures, and rain gardens. Teaching areas are designed around the idea of flexibility of space and technology, supporting both individual and group work, and fostering both formal and informal learning.

Clusters of classrooms are built around common spaces, where collaboration is encouraged and creativity is embraced.

Exterior and interior features mimic African elements throughout. The brick pattern on the exterior is reminiscent of a kente, a banded African cloth; a couple of focal points in the student dining room are pillars resembling closed papyrus-bundle columns like those used by ancient Egyptians.


HKI Associates, Inc.
2929 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43202

Associate Architect & LEED Consultant
WSA Studio
982 S. Front Street
Columbus, OH 43206

Associate Architect
O.A. Spencer, Inc.
343 E. Livingston Avenue
Columbus, OH 43215

Structural Engineer
SMBH, Inc.
1166 Dublin Road, #200
Columbus, OH 43215

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
Dynamix Engineering, Ltd.
855 Grandview Avenue, 3rd Fl
Columbus, OH 43215

Civil Engineer
EMH&T, Inc.
5500 New Albany Road
Columbus, OH 43054

General Contractor
Dunlop & Johnston, Inc.
5498 Innovation Drive
Valley City, OH 44280

Construction Manager & Cost Estimator
Smoot Elford Resource, A Joint Venture
1907 Leonard Avenue
Columbus, OH 43219

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Date Bid: Dec 2014
Construction Period: Dec 2014 to Dec 2016
Total Square Feet: 139,400
Site: 12.5 acres.
Number of Buildings: One; 46 classrooms; auditorium, seating 700; gymnasium, seating 550.
Building Sizes: First floor, 95,250; second floor, 44,150; total, 139,400 square feet.
Building Height: First floor, 13'4"; second floor, 14'8"; total, 35'.
Basic Construction Type: New/2B.
Foundation: Cast-in-place, slab-on-grade.
Exterior Walls: CMU, brick, curtain wall.
Roof: Membrane.
Floors: Concrete.
Interior Walls: CMU, metal stud drywall.

View full project details in magazine issue January-February 2018