Brooklyn School Design Connects Students, Community

Aug. 9, 2007

New York, NY -- The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has recognized Gran Kriegel Associates as part of its 2007 Building Brooklyn Awards program.

Gran Kriegel was presented with a Design Award for its design of PS/IS 395, a new 140,000-square-foot facility that serves 1,100 K-12 students in Community Schools District 22 in Brooklyn. The project was carried out on behalf of the New York City School Construction Authority.

"PS/IS 395 is really two schools and a community center, which exploit the economy of sharing an auditorium, gymnasium, and cafeteria," explained David Kriegel, managing partner of Gran Kriegel Associates. "The educational philosophy that generated this program is that students do better in an educational setting of continuity as opposed to a separate junior high school or middle school. The program for 1,100 students included an extensive Special Education componenet and community use during after hours and weekends."

The site occupies most of the block; the remaining uses are light industrial and commercial. The surrounding East Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn is primarily residential zoned -- two and three story row houses, one or two family.

Defined horizontally by the curved wall, the lobby is "Main Street" and the focus of the school. Main Street links the shared facilities, the two "streets" defining the IS and PS classroom wings, in addition to the connecting 45th and 46th Street. On the ground floor, this organization creates a special place made up of the entrances, and access to the gym, auditorium, and cafeteria.

"This unique organization allowed for securing of the classroom areas after hours while opening the major spaces for community use," said Kriegel. "It also works on the upper floors, providing access to the Library, Science, Technology, and Art -- all shared. Visually connecting the three floors is the main entrance space on 45th Street -- one of hte few departures from the agency standards."

According to Kriegel, the gym and auditorium forms reflect the earlier industrial building's bowstring trusses in the area. "Brick is the predominanat building material in the neighborhood for the residential and industrial buildings," he pointed out. "Our use of two colors lower the scale of the building, and with the horizontal articulations -- precast and glazed brick -- visually tie the various forms into a unified composition."

The gym is flooded with daylight; direct sun is shielded by electrically operated blinds. A smaller adjoining space serves both athletic and muscial rehearsal needs for the auditorium across the "street."

In order to limit the classroom elements to three stories and provide adequate outdoor play space, Gran Kriegel tucked the cafeteria under the IS classroom wing. The entire school is air-conditioned, with equipment located over the Main Street space. This allows for massing that reflects the basic organizaiton of the building and visually links the two wings. Keeping the major air-conditioning ducts over the serving area allowed for the ceiling to step up toward the active play area, giving the room an airy sense of light and space within the standard floor-to-floor dimension.

"In suburban settings the disparate forms of classroom clusters, gym, and auditorium can be manipulated by virture of the large site area," Kriegel noted. "In New York City, more often, those indivudal forms are integrated in simpler multistory envelopes.

"PS/IS 395 has a generous site -- albeit not by suburban standards -- which enabled us to organize those elements into a compressed composition," he added. "The irregularly shaped site allowd us to limit the height, separate the IS and PS with the shared facilities and serve the community securely. A rare confluence of events in densely populated Brooklyn."

Founded in 1965, Gran Kriegel Associates is a full-service architecture and planning firm providing creative, effective solutions for a wide range of public, commercial, and residential clients. The firm has completed a diverse range of projects from new housing, educational, commercial, and retail facilities to complex renovations and restoration of historic buildigns. Gran Kriegel Associates also specializes in urban design and planning, project programming, and feasibility analysis.

Contact: Bruce Ross, Bruce Ross Associates, 212-768-1155

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