Phillis Wheatley Elementary School
|location||Louisiana, New Orleans|
|function||education, kindergarten, primary school|
Floating above Creole cottages and Victorian shotgun houses of the Tremé/Lafitte neighborhood of New Orleans is the glass-and-steel Phillis Wheatley Elementary School. In 1954, the architect Charles Colbert constructed an elevated cantilevered steel truss structure to provide an expansive shaded playground area, protecting the schoolchildren from the tropical climate. Progressive for a school facility at the time, the building was critically acclaimed and its design was exhibited internationally. The building is a valuable example of regional modernism in a city most noted for its 18th- and 19th-century architecture. More than 50 years later, the elevated form proved highly effective in protecting the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School from the floods of Hurricane Katrina. Since the hurricane, the Orleans Parish School Board has shuttered the building, and decay and vandalism have taken their toll on this striking statement of modern design.