Oakland, CA 
Sankofa Academy Exterior
Sankofa Academy Interior
Sankofa Academy Library
Sankofa Academy Hall
Sankofa Academy Hall
Sankofa Academy Interior
Sankofa Academy Interior

Photographer: Eric Rorer

Reach Back and Get It
(a translation of the word 'Sankofa' from the Akan language of Ghana)


The scope of renovation and modernization of this 1950’s concrete, 2-story school building included systems upgrades, accessibility upgrades, energy improvements, and finishes replacement. Understanding the community covenant as one of the site’s core values influenced the design.  We placed an emphasis on the hallways as places for meeting as well as circulation. Benches added to the halls and ample bulletin board space communicate the hall’s importance and provide space for scholars sharing ideas and work.


Starting with the symbolic meaning of the school’s name, Sankofa,  “to reach back and get it,” we developed a hallway scheme where part of the original concrete structure was exposed above the ceiling, revealing the history and material of the building. On the south side of the hall, newly glazed transom windows that had been blocked were opened, bringing a sense of the natural world beyond to the building core.



3040 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

415 543 5505