The site for the new school is in a mid-block location adjacent to Union Square. It is comprised of an Intermediate and High School Organization within a single building. The confined urban site posed several challenges to the design approach. PKSB worked with the NYC School Construction Authority to adapt the school program to a high-rise configuration. Administrative offices are staggered throughout the building so that classrooms are not isolated on upper floors. The Intermediate School is located on the top two floors with access to their own roof top play area. This allows for a natural separation from the High School students and creates a unique identity within the larger context of the building.
Due to spatial constraints, the gym and auditorium are combined as one multipurpose space where retractable elements create performance and backstage areas. The library, which is directly off the lobby and adjacent to the street, is conceived as a media/learning center collecting several functions into one dynamic space. Department of Education design standards were reexamined to define the library as a vital social center for the school.
While not new to the lexicon of urban schools, this high rise model affords a new and unique interpretation of an educational facility.