Collins Cooper Carusi Architects

Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy

Creative Sources Photography | Atlanta Architectural Photographers

“At a high level, our challenge as we saw it, was how to represent attributes of people: strength, honor, courage, and valor, in a dignified and meaningful way, that promoted a sense of longevity and architectural permanence. Our design addressed this challenge with a sensitivity to neighborhood, history, opportunity, and inspiration. Working with Rion Rizzo and the Creative Sources team as partners, Rion captured imagery which embodies the essence of our design vision, and promotes the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.”

Sandy Cooper
Principal
Collins Cooper Carusi Architects

Children enjoy the patio outside of the art room at the Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy
Young Charles E. McGee from Cleveland, Ohio turned 22 years old on the day the US entered World War II.  His path of military service through flight school and as a career officer in the United States Air Force would culminate in his being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, and his ceremonial appointment as a Brigadier General at the age of 100.  McGee was a long-time member of the Tuskegee Airmen, and offers this insight:

“The Tuskegee Airmen are black pilots, mechanics, and support people, who, when our country declared war against Hitler, came forward and dispelled the biases and generalizations that, because of the color of our skin, we couldn’t support our country in the technical areas…”

– Brigadier General Charles E. McGee
Children enjoy the playground at the Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy - Atlanta Architectural Photographers
The spirit of the Tuskegee Airmen proved to be an inspiration to the design team at Collins Cooper Carusi Architects, as they sought to design a unique neighborhood learning environment for Pre-K through 5th grade students in southwest Atlanta.  The proximity of this site on the edge of a sizeable residential community influenced the design team’s approach toward the design of the new 107,000 ft2 school, whose primary focus for the 800 students is on STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics).

“At the outset of this project, our design team didn’t have to look very hard to find inspiration to honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. We focused on creating a walkable neighborhood school, prominently visible to passersby, and respectful of its surroundings, that would become a prideful, joyful, and forward-looking community asset.”

– Sandy Cooper | Principal | Collins Cooper Carusi
An overall street view of the Tuskegee Academy Global Academy
The relationship of the school to the neighborhood is an integral link which is echoed throughout the design.

“A new school is always a shot in the arm for the neighborhood, it’s given the neighborhood something they can be proud of, something that does really honor the history of Tuskegee. Once we went through the design process, we made efforts to reach back and reach forward, and knit it all together in brick and mortar.”

– Jere Smith – Atlanta Public Schools | Director of Capital Improvements & Construction Management
A twilight view of the entry at the Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy
The duality of the “reach back and reach forward” design philosophy is evident throughout the building and the spaces.  Material selection nods to the technological history of flight, and the structures of Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, where the Airmen were stationed.  Brick & block building materials, X-brace struts, and corrugated metal components have been reimagined in a facility designed for today and tomorrow.

“One of the coolest features, that was brought to us by our landscape architect, is the runway pattern that we used in the sidewalk leading up to it, so that you really get the feel that you’re getting into a machine that holds all of this STEAM-based learning and these exciting lab spaces.”

– Brett Norton | Architect | Collins Cooper Carusi
A view of the runway entrance with students at the Tuskegee Academy Global Academy
The lab spaces and overall learning environment are geared toward flexibility of use and fostering opportunities for student interaction and collaboration.

“We spent a lot of time tweaking the layout of the various labs and art spaces around the collaboration zone. It was important to us that these spaces offer open, flexible opportunities for learning and discovery. We incorporated a series of transparent, overhead doors, so that these smaller spaces can open up and become one big field of collective learning. The idea was that when all of the doors are open, a student could fly their carefully engineered paper airplane through two labs, and all the way out into the collaboration zone.”

– Chamberlaine Beard | Architect | Collins Cooper Carusi
Students enjoy using the Art Room at the Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy
These ideals of learning and discovery are at the forefront of the architects’ vision as they bring this project to a reality for the community and the students who will walk their halls.  Brig. General McGee frames the narrative of maximizing education, opportunity, and inherent ability echoing this vision:

“Our story is not just about what we did, but about education and taking advantage of opportunities that exist…Our country is more diverse than it has ever been…What is the strength of our country? It’s the ability of people. If you don’t get the best out of everybody, who knows what the country has lost?”

– Brigadier General Charles E. McGee
A view of the colorful Media Center at the Tuskegee Academy Global Academy
The Collins Cooper Carusi team reflects on the cohesive timeline of the project whose arc encompasses past, present, and future…

“As we think back on the beginnings of this project, what we learned, and how we articulated these ideas architecturally, one can’t help but be elated to design a building honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, some of our country’s finest men. We hope they, Atlanta Public Schools, and the thousands of students who will enjoy this new home for years to come, are equally proud of what they see.”

– Sandy Cooper | Principal | Collins Cooper Carusi
Collins Cooper Carusi Architects Inc. teamed with JE Dunn Construction on the Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy.  Creative Sources Photography’s experienced, award-winning creative team of Atlanta Architectural Photographers is here to collaborate on your next project, from concept and planning, to final image results.

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