Posts tagged with "High Schools":

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Emerging New York firms design 15 calming spaces for city high schools

For most teens, high school is an angsty time. This year, though, students at select New York City public high schools can de-stress in meditation and yoga rooms designed by emerging local firms. Today First Lady Chirlane McCray, students, and their teachers gathered at a Brooklyn school to announce the completion of 15 "wellness spaces" in public high schools across the five boroughs. The student-driven pilot program paired teenagers with faculty, architects, and graphic designers to transform underused spaces, indoors and outside, into peaceful areas that foster mental health. In all, the wellness rooms will serve almost 10,000 students. Six emerging firms designed the spaces, nine of which are indoors. Though every room is different, the spaces feature hydroponic gardens, recording booths, meditation areas, and restorative justice rooms. (The open-air classrooms share much of the same programming but also feature outdoor gardens.) The grant-funded projects are part of Mental Health by Design (MHxD), a program that's run through ThriveNYC, McCray's mental health initiative. MHxD asked Karen Kubey, an urbanist specializing in architecture and health, to match architects to the chosen schools. Kubey reached out to young New York firms, connecting them with projects in nine schools across four boroughs. The rooms were done on a tight budget in a short timeframe. Kubey paired Brooklyn's Peterson Rich Office (PRO) with two Bronx institutions, The Academy for Career and Living Skills (ACLS) and International School for Liberal Arts (ISLA). With $10,000 and less than four months to complete their work, the firm transformed a large unused classroom at ACLS into a Mindfulness Space, complete with hanging plants, Yogibo teardrop beanbags, cubby shelving, and a bold felt-and-paint mural, pictured above. At the ISLA, students and architects brightened their Safe Space, a former classroom, with new curtains, lighting, and seating from Knoll. The fixtures, paint, and furnishings were mostly donated or bought at a discount. In the South Bronx, Daniel Kidd, founder of DEMO Architecture and a professional musician, collaborated with students at Longwood Preparatory High School to build an audio booth so students could record and share music. The studio connects students to neighborhood's musical heritage—the South Bronx is the birthplace of hip-hop—and gives them an outlet to bond over music. In addition to PRO and DEMO Architecture, Kubey worked with ATTN-ATTN, Common Bond Design, Creative Art Works, and Homepolish on MHxD wellness rooms at other high schools. At all sites, graphic designers at Hyperakt partnered with two students from each school to brand the spaces, with students designing posters to promote their new facilities and increase mental health awareness.
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JGMA overhauls a former Kmart for a progressive Chicago high school program

Before JGMA was given the job to design a new school for the Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep (CRSM), it was working with students and faculty in design charrettes. The high school was looking for a design and an architect as progressive as its approach to education, which endeavors to have students function at college level by the time they graduate. On top of offering typical coursework, CRSM matches students with corporations; the students work for the corporations and in turn the corporations sponsor them. Now, the school is hoping to have a campus that lives up to its academic ambitions.

The path to a state-of-the-art school has not necessarily been clear. Currently located in a building in desperate need of repair and updating, CRSM has had no room to expand—even after the school bought a nearby abandoned Kmart store. It took working with the JGMA team to realize a design that would transform the banal nature of a big-box structure into a cohesive campus.

One of the first and most difficult challenges of the project was to remove the stigma of the big box and its not-so-appealing suburban surroundings: Seas of parking lots, strip malls, and fast-food joints surround the site. So JGMA worked to break up the monotony of the vast concrete lot and sterile facade of the building. “These students are used to getting hand-me-down everything,” noted JGMA designer Katie LaCourt. “Their current building is a hand-me-down. Overcoming this stigma associated with the big box was one of our first concerns.”

The artificially lighted interior also needed to be addressed. This came in the form of the biggest and most visible move in the project: plans for three large cuts to be taken out of the roof and facade of the building. These cuts will bring light into and throughout the building, interrupting the visual form of the 120,000-square-foot structure. Playing on the Kmart’s original decorated shed form, a second facade will be draped over the building, giving it a completely different appearance and character. Additionally, the former parking lot at the front of the building will be covered by a soccer field, distancing the building further from its big-box roots.

The large cuts will also provide common areas between the teaching spaces to create the feeling of a campus rather than a single building. Outside of the building, the planned landscaping mirrors these cuts. Long paths will extend from the front and the back of the building to provide outdoor learning areas and connect a marsh to the campus.

Though on track to begin construction by early spring 2017, the conversion process is a long one. Working to accommodate the school and its students, JGMA has divided the project into three phases. The first phase will involve converting 50,000 square feet of the floor area and making two of the designed cuts. This will allow the current 375 students to move into the new space. When the second phase is complete, the entire building will have been converted, and the school will be able to expand to its goal of 500 students. The third and final stage will be the landscaping, which will complete the transformation to an educational campus.

JGMA’s conversion of this empty Kmart is not the first of its kind, but it is indicative of changes happening in many of America’s suburbs. Many big boxes across the country, which for numerous reasons have closed or moved into new spaces, have begun to be redeveloped. In a few notable examples, large stores have been converted into city libraries. In Eden Prairie, Minnesota, BTR Architects converted a former grocery store into the county’s public library; just as for the Cristo Rey project, light and large expansive spaces were issues that had to be addressed. Others have been converted into fitness centers and go-kart tracks, and one even became a Spam museum. These conversions have achieved varied levels of success and innovation. When complete, Cristo Rey will arguably be one of the most ambitious.

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100-year-old high school gets a contemporary facelift from Wight & Company

Darien, Illinois-based Wight & Company has recently finished a 43,000-square-foot addition for Joliet Township High School campus. Joliet, a city about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, is the fourth largest city in Illinois, and the town’s high school campus was in need of updates and space. Wight’s design added an expansive student center, a dining facility, multi-purpose areas, and an elevator to improve ADA accessibility to the four story building. The campus as a whole is comprised of four main academic buildings, which serve approximately 2,600 student. The most distinguishing portion of the new design is a 50-foot-tall glass curtain wall atrium, which now encapsulates a 1901 gothic-revival facade. The space houses the schools new main entry and provides students with a place to work, congregate, and access student services. "The architecture team envisioned a space that would serve as the heart of the school, connecting the new with the old," explained Kevin Havens, director of design for Wight, in a press release "Our atrium design references elements of the Collegiate Gothic style of this landmark building, but does so in a modern way that is light and airy.” Wight acted as designers, Architect of Record, structural engineers, MEP engineers, interior designers, and landscape architects on the project.