By the 1930s, one-third of the American South’s rural Black schoolchildren were served by Rosenwald Schools. Through the joint efforts of Booker T. Washington and the President of Sears, Roebuck and Company, Julius Rosenwald, the Rosenwald School initiative was established to address the dismal, underfunded, and segregated public education of the American Rural South. The Rosenwald Schools were a product of a school building program that produced a series of extremely efficient and specific architectural plans for a variety of community schoolhouses. The schools, numbering five thousand plus at their prime, would eventually become a forgotten type as desegregation efforts increased. In a current de facto segregated society, inequity still prevails within our educational system.
Product of a close examination of the Rosenwald Schools’ plans, “Civic School Plans—Bulletin No. 1” offers a new model for contemporary schools that challenges issues of inequity within rural communities. This thesis situates itself along the I-95 corridor of South Carolina, a region where the educational system has cyclically failed its inhabitants. It challenges the school as a civic space capable of addressing problems of inequity by integrating dissonant communal and educational resources, that can operate simultaneously yet autonomously, into a collective whole. By rendering dissonance as productive in architecture, this school aims to utilize programmatic specificity and multiplicity to propose alternative spatial paradigms for education.