Engaging, creative and sustainable community spaces
The Bronx Charter School project involved the adaptive reuse of an existing industrial warehouse into an engaging and sustainable academic environment, dedicated to the arts.
The conversion consisted of two separate buildings made from masonry bearing walls and structural steel. With only one perimeter wall having windows, it called for an innovative design to maximize natural light.
Adapting the space to meet the required criteria of an art school, in a way that was sympathetic to the building’s original design concept, presented a major challenge for our team.
BuroHappold Engineering provided structural and MEP engineering services for the project, participating in the highly collaborative design process. This included forums involving the community, education officials and the design team. This high level of community engagement informed the final design of the 24,000ft2 building, which features vibrant color, natural light and flexible open spaces.
To overcome lighting issues, an open floor plan was created with multi use, shared spaces. This allowed for expanded learning areas outside the classroom environment, promoting interaction and connectivity. Extensive structural modifications included six 70ft x 15ft polycarbonate skylights in the roof framing, as well as large street level windows to produce an abundance of natural light.
Improved natural lighting was also the solution to another major concern. The large windows reduced electric loads by letting in more light without additional heat gain. This will result in less expenditure on heating and cooling, helping to meet the project’s low carbon objectives, and allowing the filtration of fresh air. Efficient service upgrades to gas, electrics and domestic water will also enhance the building’s sustainability credentials.
The project has had a significant positive impact on the community, receiving numerous awards for its innovative design, including an American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Design Excellence for K-12 Facilities.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply