franklin school dc


“A Cluss Campus”

From coalition member Stephen J. Ackerman:

Franklin School Academic Center

I entertain an alternative vision of Franklin School as a facility shared by institutions of higher learning, for short the proposal is for a Cluss Campus.

The idea is for the city to lease space to various universities, colleges, and other advanced learning and cultural institutions that would benefit from a facility and presence in downtown Washington, particularly in such a distinguished setting. Dedicated office space and use of lecture rooms could be arranged, along with occasional use of the large theater space for graduations and special events, would be attractive to many institutions.

Local institutions like the (formerly USDA) Graduate School and universities perhaps desiring a downtown presence — Marymount, George Mason, American, and others come to mind — could find value in a restored Franklin School. After all, it started as a primary school and became a high school. It might now reach the university level.

Such use is compatible with use by the University of the District of Columbia, raising its visibility at an important juncture in its development.

International cultural institutions, often affiliated with embassies, are potential clients. All interested in Adolf Cluss are aware of Germany’s Goethe-Institut, but France, Japan, Korea, and many other nations maintain such programs here as well.

Another constituency includes universities nationwide. For instance, Marquette maintains a large townhouse on East Capitol Street, USC an office building, Appalachian State a residential facility. How many others might value a Washington presence or Washington semester option? To those not here yet, it would allow an attractive alternative on the order of junior year abroad.

Washington has allure to students nationwide. Programs importing students for DC immersion like Close-Up thrive. Franklin School redeemed could be a magnificent magnet, drawing many into our splendid city beyond-the-mall, persisting in its academic birthright, and remaining accessible to the public.

Done thoughtfully, a Cluss Campus in time could also be a money-maker for the District of Columbia and pay off any bonds that might be floated to renovate the building.

--Stephen J. Ackerman