Planet Word

Planet Word

Washington, DC
United States
Planet Word

TYLin provided structural engineering design services to convert a historic school into Planet Word in Washington, DC.

The historic Franklin School was designed by Adolf Cluss and originally opened in 1869. It was one of the earliest co-ed high schools. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996. The Renaissance Revival structure is sited across from Franklin Square and named after Benjamin Franklin. It has been reborn as Planet Word, a language arts museum and education space.  

A careful renovation of the five-story space introduced a restaurant, offices, a workshop and conference room, retail space, auditoriums and galleries, a language laboratory, and rotating exhibits. Sensitive additions to the heavily protected building include a fourth-floor event space connected to a new roof terrace. 

The Great Hall is the largest historical space within the building. The ceiling was carefully modified to support the installation of a 15-foot diameter LED planet display. The modifications also achieved the necessary loading capacity for the new event space located directly above in a formerly unused attic. 

Project Highlights:

  • The structural scope included strengthening the existing floor structure for higher live loads and new floor structures and elevators. 
  • Engineers repaired and preserved the historic roof wood trusses to allow the creation of seven new galleries. 
  • Planet Word is recognized as the world’s first voice-activated museum of language. 
  • The architect was Beyer Blinder Belle.

Images credit: Joseph Romeo Photography


Design Award for Historic Resources & Preservation, 2022
American Institute of Architects | DC

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