Avenues invested $60 million for the design and construction required to convert this landmark building designed by Cass Gilbert into a state-of-the-art school facility. A team of internationally known and experienced architects (Perkins Eastman) and interior designers (Bonetti/Kozerski) led this transformation.
When the campus opened for students in fall 2012, we were confident it would be viewed as one of the finest school facilities in Manhattan. Here are eight reasons why:
Few school facilities are unbounded on all four sides, allowing superior access and light. The Chelsea campus has 600 linear feet of street and park frontage, including a 200-foot “dining porch” overlooking the High Line; 200 feet on Tenth Avenue for the main entrance; 100 feet on 26th Street for the Early Learning Center entrance; and 100 feet on 25th Street for service deliveries.
There are more than 700 ten-foot-high windows in the building. Virtually all classrooms have three of these as their centerpiece.
Public floors (on the first and third floors) have 15- to 18-foot ceilings. Many floors have 20- to 25-foot “double height” spaces. Typical classroom floors have 11.5 foot ceilings, and “dropped ceilings” have been avoided wherever possible.
A school facility does not need to be luxurious, but it does not have to be Dickensian either. This campus is characteristic of a well-designed Chelsea loft. Extraordinary attention was given to all aspects of the floor plan, the elevations, furniture and equipment.
Economics do not allow center-city schools the space that is common in boarding schools or suburban schools, but Avenues’ Chelsea campus is spacious. The 215,000-square-foot campus encompasses ten floors, a full basement and a roof-top play space. It offers students 10-20 percent more space than is typical in other metropolitan independent school facilities.
To pursue individual work, students must have a place in which to do it. The Lower, Middle and Upper Schools feature well-appointed, open-area “studios” for students to work on their own.
As technological devices are constantly changing, the most important aspect of school design in regard to technology is a robust infrastructure that includes strong and ubiquitous wireless connectivity, sufficient bandwidth and plenty of electrical capacity. In addition, good presentation and instructional technology are part of every classroom setting.
It is important to “walk the walk” on sustainability. Key aspects of the sustainability plan are use of a pre-existing building and complete replacement of all windows to ensure efficient heating and cooling.
All in all, the Chelsea campus is an outstanding place for students to live and learn.