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The glass exterior of Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in Treme was replaced with a plastic substitute in dull shades of blue and green decades ago. Rust collects on once-gleaming steel trusses, and dented air conditioning units leak condensation from the elevated, cube-like structure onto the littered schoolyard, which has been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina.
No one would argue that the eye-catching building could use some work. But as the clock ticks toward the August release of a final School Facility Master Plan for Orleans Parish, a debate has begun on exactly what kind of work is needed for the landmark Modernist building.
Wheatley is one of four mid-century architectural landmarks that could be demolished, according to the latest draft of the master plan released in January by the Orleans Parish School Board and state-run Recovery School District.