Posts tagged with "schools":
This “barn” uses traditional red wooden planks and copper to produce a striking, long lasting facade
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.
Prospect-Lefferts Gardens was once referred to by locals as “Brooklyn’s best-kept secret.” Now, developments—many of which offer vistas across Prospect Park and onto downtown Manhattan—are shooting up as the area surges in popularity. One of those is The Parkline at 626 Flatbush Avenue between Fenimore and Hawthorne streets.
The 23-story building, backed by developer Hudson Inc., is the tallest in the neighborhood. It offers 254 units as part of a mixed-income “80/20” scheme (a development that is granted tax-exempt financing when at least 20 percent of the units are reserved for low-income earners).
Aside from the rental units, a restaurant with a glazed facade can be found on the ground floor, along with a bookstore. As per the “Community Facility” zoning code of the area, Hudson decided to include a school—an expansion of the nearby Maple Street School—into the development.
“We could easily have opted for a doctor’s office,” said principal Alison Novak. “Frankly, a doctor’s office might have paid more for the space. But having a nursery school, especially one based in the neighborhood with a stellar reputation, was more appealing in part because it is a more attractive use to residents of the building. We also recognized that it is more difficult to locate a school than a doctor’s office, and we had an opportunity to support a neighborhood institution.”
Maple Street School is located on the second floor of The Parkline and has been open since September. The preschool, designed by Brooklyn-based studios Barker Freeman Design Office architects and 4|MATIV, offers three classrooms on the west side, all connected in a linear fashion through sliding timber doors. Holding approximately 16 children each, the classrooms can open up to form larger spaces with adjacent rooms when needed.
Even when closed, however, the doors facilitate connections between classrooms. Windows, placed at varying heights and shapes, can be found. Novak remarked how her daughter, who attends the school, interacts with friends on the other side, often knocking on and peering through the low-level windows. Around the north and west perimeter, large windows have also been included.
Inside each classroom, children have access to bathrooms and “play-sinks.” Alexandra Barker of Barker Freeman described how the sinks connect the inside and outside of the bathrooms. “The play-sinks store toys where the children can play, but on the other side is where they can wash after going to the bathroom,” said Barker. Situated in the classrooms themselves, the bespoke bathrooms prevent children from wandering astray when they need to go.
Another feature is a multipurpose kitchen area. Priya Patel of 4|MATIV said that a “big part of the curriculum is to teach kids through cooking.” Barker elaborated: “It’s a diverse space: At one level it acts as a kitchen-cafe area, whereas on another level kids can climb up and play. It also doubles up as an informal performance space and, due to its location, a gathering point that the whole school has access to. It was actually a big deal to decide that this was a specific space that wasn’t just the classrooms or lobby.”
Within this space, and indeed throughout much of the school, maple timber has been employed for flooring, cabinets, and other furniture, as well as a “peg board” (a board with moveable pegs that children can play with in the lobby when being dropped off or collected). With its white interior walls—left intentionally blank so children can display their artwork on them—and generous amounts of daylight, the school has a Scandinavian feel to it. “We wanted to materially represent Maple Street,” said Barker. “This was a big choice to use maple flooring, as opposed to something that would have perhaps been easier.”
ResourcesEngineered Maple flooring: Kährs Contractors: Bolt Construction Developer: The Hudson Companies Design Architects: Barker Freeman Design Office 4|Mativ Design Studio