Strong Beginnings Lead to Strong Careers

Duke Ellington School for the Arts, named after American Jazz bandleader and composer Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974), was established in 1974. Located inD.C., this public school is dedicated to enriching students through arts and education.

The Duke Ellington project was designed by Cox Graee + Spack Architects with Fisher Dachs Associates serving as consultant. InterAmerica Stage, Inc. was brought on board by PDO, Inc. to design a full-coverage SkyDeck™ system for the 150 seat black box theatre. With SkyDeck™, every square foot of the black box theatre is walkable. Students are able to safely access every section overhead to adjust lighting or rigging points. This gives an unparalleled level of flexibility for the multipurpose space.

Photo of Duke Ellington from school website

The school is rigorous, resulting in a 95% placement rate for graduates rising to university. Many notable alumni marked their beginnings at Duke Ellington, including Corey Hawkins (Opera Singer), Ernest W. Gibson III (Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court), Ruth Chew (Author), Marja Vallila (Sculptor), Samira Wiley (Actress), and Dave Chappelle (Comedian).

Chappelle, who graduated in 1991, gave a shout-out to D.C. public schools during the 2017 Emmy Awards. Two weeks after his Emmy speech, Chapelle returned to Duke Ellington School for the Arts to help the school celebrate the completed renovation and restoration of the campus. At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor Bower stated, “The beauty and amenities at the modernized Duke Ellington School of the Arts are unrivaled, and as a city, we are so proud to be able to support and celebrate some of our most talented young artists as they learn, grow, and hone their craft.”

“Through this project, I have had a unique opportunity to work with a stellar group of skilled professionals from every sector of the construction industry,” said DGS Director Greer Johnson Gillis. “Their dedication and hard work is evident in every inch of this magnificent building.”

InterAmerica Stage, Inc. is thrilled to be part of this project. As a company of industry professionals, we look forward to seeing the students’ successes and hope that our part sparks their lifelong passion for the arts.