Detroit School of Arts (DSA)

This photo shows the Detroit School of Arts in the evening.


  • Location: Detroit, MI
  • Building type(s): K-12 education
  • New construction
  • 286,000 ft2 (26,600 m2)
  • Project scope: 6-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed February 2005
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2/v.2.1--Level: Certified (29 points)

The Detroit School of Arts (DSA) is a new, 1,200-student public high school located in the heart of Detroit's cultural center. Its opening in February 2005 marked the completion of the third and final phase of the Orchestra Place Master Plan, which includes historic Orchestra Hall and the Max M. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. The six-story, 286,000 ft2 facility is a flagship project for the Detroit Public Schools' $1.5 billion bond program that has elevated the quality of the district's facilities.

Environmental Aspects

Environmental responsibility is a centerpiece of DSA's design. Detroit Public Schools embraced green design since several green characteristics have been shown to raise student and staff performance.

The building is organized so that spaces that benefit from daylighting are on the perimeter and spaces not requiring daylight, or requiring darkness, are in the core of the building. The design team planned the building envelope with energy efficiency in mind, carefully considering the effects of shading devices, highly reflective roofing, green roofs, insulation values, and the placement of glazing and overhangs.

Recycled-content materials, low-emitting materials, and products manufactured within the region were preferred, and the project team diverted almost 60% of the construction waste, by weight, from landfills.

The location of the building in an urban environment convenient to public transportation and the provision of bicycle storage and changing facilities encourage students and employees to take advantage of alternative methods of transportation.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Detroit Public Schools, Local government
  • Typically occupied by 1,522 people, 60 hours per person per week; and 30 visitors per week, 2 hours per visitor per week

Operations follow a conventional school schedule. Students and instructors remain in the facility, at a significantly reduced occupancy, after school hours to work on special projects, music practice, research, and rehearsals for school events and music programs. School performances held during evenings and weekends host up to 800 visitors, in addition to the students and staff involved in the performances.

This facility houses a live broadcast radio station and a full TV production facility with two studios. These facilities are used by the students during the day but are also operated by industry professionals. The radio station operates around the clock, and the TV facility operates 16 hours each day.

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Circulation (27%), Classroom (20%), Other (14%), Public assembly (12%), Mechanical systems (11%), Electrical systems (4%), Cafeteria (4%), Office (3%), Restrooms (2%), Gymnasium (1%), Lobby/reception (1%), Conference (1%)

Outdoor Spaces:

Pedestrian/non-motorized vehicle path (50%), Drives/roadway (40%), Garden—decorative (10%)


Integrated team, Design charrette, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Commissioning, Brownfield redevelopment, Efficient irrigation, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Massing and orientation, Insulation levels, Glazing, Airtightness, HVAC, Efficient lighting, Durability, Recycled materials, Local materials, Certified wood, C&D waste management, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Moisture control, Thermal comfort, Noise control, Low-emitting materials, Indoor air quality monitoring

Photo credit: Clayton Studio

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Last updated: 5/17/2007

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