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Community Education Building – Adaptive Reuse

The Community Education Building (CEB) in Wilmington, Delaware, stands as a symbol of collaborative learning and urban revitalization. This 14-story, 282,000-square-foot facility, originally the Bank of America’s Administrative Offices, was repurposed by the Longwood Foundation to house four schools catering to over 1,500 students from kindergarten to college age. Wohlsen, entrusted with the transformation, creatively adapted the building into a state-of-the-art educational space, overcoming logistical challenges in downtown Wilmington. The project prioritized collaboration and inclusivity, featuring tailored spaces for charter schools, shared amenities, and a commitment to preserving the building’s unique architectural elements. The project not only promotes student success but also emphasizes community engagement, offering a range of programs and services. The construction process demonstrated the Wohlsen team’s adaptability and problem-solving skills, addressing complex logistics and ensuring safety compliance.


Community Education Building




Wilmington, DE


282,000 square feet




June 2014

“Wohlsen Construction enabled CEB to fulfill our vision of providing a world-class educational environment for students.”

Riccardo Stoeckicht, Former President of the Community Education Building

An Integrated Ecosystem

The Community Education Building (CEB) in Wilmington, Delaware, is a beacon of collaborative learning. It provides mission-driven organizations access to conveniently located and secure facilities, fostering a vibrant ecosystem. Currently, the CEB houses four schools, serving over 1,500 students from kindergarten through college. In addition to being a hub for education, the CEB is a center for community programs and services. By partnering with mission-aligned organizations, it creates an integrated network of support for students, families, and schools. This network helps students overcome systemic barriers, fostering authentic relationships, and promoting close integration with the local Wilmington community. The CEB’s integrated ecosystem is more than just a building; it’s a commitment to the community. Its goal is to promote thriving families, drive student success, and support quality schools. To learn more about the CEB and its impact, please visit their website: https://cebde.org/how-we-work/ 

14-Stories of Adaptive Reuse

The 14-story, 282,000-square-foot building stands as a testament to transformative urban renewal. Previously housing the Bank of America’s Administrative Offices, this expansive building, which encompasses an entire city block, remained vacant for several years until its donation to the Longwood Foundation in 2012. The Longwood Foundation, in turn, established a new 501(c)(3) organization to repurpose the building into a shared educational space. Our team at Wohlsen was entrusted with the task of converting this former bank into a state-of-the-art facility for the Wilmington community. The building’s design includes four stories dedicated to parking. Above this, nine floors house classrooms, dining areas, multipurpose rooms, and administrative spaces. The penthouse is home to the building’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. With the ability to accommodate over 2,400 students, the building features spaces specifically tailored for charter schools to meet their unique educational needs. In addition, the building offers shared amenities for all its students, including a large library, learning commons, multipurpose rooms for events, a playground, a health and wellness center, and a Family Resource Center equipped with a food pantry. The entire design of the Community Education Building fosters a collaborative ecosystem model, providing dedicated spaces for learning and enrichment and facilitating access to shared services. 

Working in the Client's Best Interest

During the design and construction phase, CEB capitalized on favorable bonding conditions and the cost savings negotiated by the Wohlsen team. This strategy allocated an additional $5M to the project. With this extra funding, CEB expanded the project scope to include a 7,000-square-foot library, an upgraded security system, and enhanced flooring. Throughout the construction process, the Wohlsen team meticulously preserved the high-quality finishes of the existing building wherever feasible. For instance, a beautiful mahogany finish that CEB wished to retain within the dining room posed a challenge when a bathroom needed to be added to the space. Upon completing the bathroom, the Wohlsen team took great care to ensure that all finishes were either replaced or duplicated to match the existing molding and millwork, replicating the work precisely, even without any documentation. Safety was a paramount concern during the renovation. It was crucial to update the building to comply with the latest codes, ensuring a safe space for the Wilmington Community. Wohlsen carried out several seismic upgrades to the building’s wind frame structure, adding 140 additional tons of steel to meet existing code requirements. 

Managing the Logistics of a Downtown Site

Completing a project in bustling downtown Wilmington necessitated extensive coordination and meticulous pre-planning. The Community Education Building spanned an entire city block, leaving the Wohlsen team with no space for material laydowns or deliveries. The challenge of managing site logistics compelled the team to devise innovative strategies to transport materials into the building while minimizing disruption to the local community. The team extensively used a freight elevator to distribute materials throughout the building’s 14 floors. However, the elevator’s ten-foot depth limited transporting of longer materials. To overcome this, the team cut a hole in the elevator’s roof, enabling the transportation of slightly longer materials than previously possible. As with any construction project in a busy urban center, managing material deliveries was crucial. The team collaborated with DelDOT to temporarily close one lane on Walnut Street as needed, ensuring efficient and easy processing of deliveries. For the most challenging deliveries, the team utilized a crane to transport materials directly into the building through windows on the relevant floors. Each crane operation required obtaining city permits, closing 12th Street to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and coordinating with local police for traffic management. The crane was deployed over 25 times throughout the construction process. This project is a testament to the Wohlsen team’s adaptability and innovative problem-solving skills in the face of logistical challenges. 

Key Partners

Homsey Architects, Inc.
Paragon Engineering Corporation
Apex Engineering Incorporated
DCI+MacIntosh Engineers

Project Features

Science Labs
Art Studio
Administrative Space
Wellness Center
Fitness Center
Two Dance Studios
Three New Stair Towers
Outside Basketball Court
Four-Story Parking


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