The date of groundbreaking for the Franklin School redevelopment is still not known. David McAuley, founder of Short Articles about Long Meetings, reported in PoPville that architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle told a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F that the groundbreaking for the language arts museum, called Planet Word, will occur May 4. [UPDATE: A staff member of Planet Word reached out to Curbed DC to confirm that the date for groundbreaking has not officially been set yet.]
The school-turned-museum, located at 13th and K streets NW, is to inspire a love of words and language and increase literacy through interactive exhibits.
Washington Business Journal broke down exactly what to expect from the project floor by floor, writing:
“On the ground floor, a 1,377-square-foot restaurant and 1,069-square-foot kitchen, more than 2,100 square feet of offices, a workshop and small conference room.
On the first floor, 603 square feet of retail, joined by a nearly 2,000-square-foot auditorium and two galleries totaling about 2,200 square feet.
On the second floor, five galleries totaling just shy of 5,000 square feet, joined by a 300-square-foot language lab and two classrooms.
On the third floor, a 3,124-square-foot gallery in the Great Hall, a 1,578-square-foot gallery and a 2,205-square-foot changing exhibit. This floor also includes a 155-square-foot Bride’s Room, suggesting the school will be available to rent for weddings.
On the fourth floor, 2,941 square feet of potential event space joined by a new 1,080-square-foot roof terrace. It is one of the few additions that will be made to the heavily protected building.”
In 1869, the Franklin School was designed by Adolph Cluss, the same architect behind Eastern Market and the Arts and Industries Building. When it was constructed, it served as the flagship building of eight modern urban public school buildings.
On the rooftop of the school in 1880, Alexander Graham Bell tested his invention, the photophone, which allows sound to be transmitted by light waves. Because of this, the school was later declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996.
In 2002, the building was later used as a homeless shelter that eventually closed in September 2008.