Duke Ellington School of the Arts

With over 20,000 square feet of plaster, mostly installed on scaffolding, the auditorium at Duke Ellington School of the Arts presented new challenges in size, site conditions, and schedule. Despite these obstacles, the Senza Finé crew delivered a spectacular end result, completing the largest Armourcoat Anti-Crack project in North America to date, and also receiving a Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award. Read more about this project below.


Product: Armoucoat Anti-Crack, Armourcoat Key Coat, Armourcoat Pitted Plaster, Custom color and texture, imbedded stencil work
Specifier: Cox Graae and Spack Architects
Address: 1680 35th Street, NW Washington, DC

Extended Description

Senza Finé masterfully installed over 20,000 square feet of Armourcoat plaster on the exterior walls of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts theater, a project recognized as the largest Armourcoat Anti-Crack plaster job in North America to date. Senza Finé was tasked with installing specialty plaster on the exterior walls of the high school’s circular auditorium. The auditorium also stands on columns in the center of the main building, creating an awe inspiring focal point within the space.

The abnormal shape required leveling from ¼ to ¾ of an inch to ensure successful installation. Our technicians installed over 25,000 pounds of Armourcoat Anti-Crack as the base leveling product, which consists of fibers and resins to resist cracking and improve durability.

To complete the look on the exterior walls of the auditorium, we then installed polished plaster over the Anti-Crack, applying Armourcoat keycoat and pitted plaster at a consistent level of color, texture, and sheen. Senza Finé also developed a custom plaster finish on the columns at the base of the theater. The plasterwork on the theater was so well received that the client chose to add custom stencil work in Armourcoat’s Koncrete finish to identify each floor of the school.

Not only was this project memorable because of its record breaking size, it also presented a challenge in condition and scheduling. Polished plaster is typically installed towards the end of construction projects. However, the location of the theater and the sequencing of other trades people meant Senza Finé had to do the majority of the project in the midst of heavy construction, in an unconditioned environment. Installation was also conducted at an accelerated rate to meet the requirements of the client.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts auditorium project presented the Senza Finé team with many challenges. The incredible end result is a true testament to the mastery and dedication of the Senza Finé team. These extraordinary efforts were recognized with a Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award in 2018.