ELC and Co.Lab

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Early Learning Center

Avenues New York’s Early Learning Center is housed in a brand new, purpose-built facility located at 536 West 26th Street—just down the block from the main campus. Designed by Eleven of Eleven Architecture, this new facility provides three floors of self-contained space for our nursery, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.

For Avenues, the design process itself presented an opportunity for innovation. Taking the same interdisciplinary, collaborative approach that we encourage in our students, the design team engaged our ELC faculty—the project’s most important members—throughout the process, soliciting their views and incorporating their feedback. At multiple workshops, educators and architects worked together to identify ways in which a new facility could better serve our program. Their discussions were informed by field trips to peer institutions, researching innovative workspaces and attending a Harvard educational design conference. This process of inquiry and discovery culminated with the construction of a full-scale prototype ELC classroom, which was tested with groups of our students in order to identify areas for improvement.

For our faculty and leadership, this was an exciting chance to create a space that would not only meet the needs of young children, but also fulfill the requirements of Avenues’ unique curriculum, which emphasizes collaboration, interdisciplinary study and learning through play. The result is a best-in-class early childhood facility where our faculty can thrive in their mission to nurture and inspire our youngest learners.

For our designers, the selection of each material was a chance to further optimize the environment for early childhood education. Fixtures and furniture—from classroom sinks to cubbies—were selected with the specific ergonomics of 3- to 6-year-olds in mind. Ceiling tiles and wall panels offer improved classroom acoustics and minimized noise pollution, while natural carpets from renewable sources perform as air filters, reducing airborne dust and allergens. Honoring our mission statement pledge of awareness that our behavior “makes a difference in our ecosystem,” all materials were sourced from producers who prioritize sustainability and environmental accountability.

Spread across three floors—nursery on the second, pre-K on the third and kindergarten on the fourth—the new ELC features a range of spaces to accommodate various learning styles and lesson formats. A fully equipped teaching kitchen and a patio for growing plants provides ample opportunities for experiential learning, while a cozy library in the quiet section of the building is a haven for young readers. The classrooms in which students spend most of their time are paired and connected in order to support the immersion program, in which students move between English- and Chinese- or Spanish-speaking classrooms on alternating days.

CO.LAB

The Co.Lab at 536 West 26th Street provides state-of-the-art project labs for the exclusive use of Upper Division students. This purpose-built facility occupies an entire floor above the new Early Learning Center and is accessible via elevators from the lobby. Containing dedicated areas for the pursuit of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), the Co.Lab is a signature Avenues space where the principles of collaboration and innovation are brought to life.

Conceived as an environment to encourage ideation and experimentation, the Co.Lab supports the interdisciplinary and the project-based learning approach that is a cornerstone of the Avenues high school experience. The space will be available during and after class, both on a drop-in basis and for scheduled blocks of class time. A 12th grade student might execute her Mastery project there, alongside a group of 9th graders working on 3-D printing assignment with their teacher in the iLab and a team of social innovation fellows brainstorming for a new design challenge in a seminar room. While STEAM spaces predominate, the entire floor is designed to flexibly accommodate all Upper Division subject areas.

The design of the Co.Lab reflects our desire to provide Upper Division students with an environment that matches the seriousness and ambitiousness of their projects, where they will see themselves as real-world designers, makers and entrepreneurs. To this end, we took inspiration from the most innovative, architecturally progressive workspaces in the world. Industry-leading features include visual and physical connections between areas, niche areas for small group work, retractable walls and mobile storage units that allow for various spatial configurations.

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Recent Articles from OPEN, our news and discussion blog

June 19, 2019

Ruckus Constructus 2019

by Jennette Mullaney


This spring, the Avenues community came together for Ruckus Constructus, our annual, school-wide STEAM fair. It was the first year Avenues held the event at two campuses simultaneously—in New York and São Paulo.  

June 19, 2019

First Avenues Law Review!

by Ron Widelec, Upper Division History Teacher


The Avenues Law Review Club has finally published our very first law review. As far as we can tell, we are the first and only high school in the nation to produce one! 

June 13, 2019

Creativity is a Process: Visiting Author E. Lockhart Shares Why Creativity Is Not the Same as Spontaneity

by Cherie Yanek, Upper Division Librarian


Award-winning author E. Lockhart visited students in grades 7, 8, and 9 this spring, sharing her work, stories, and background. Students left intrigued about her life, eager to read more of her books and inspired for their own creative processes. 

June 11, 2019

New York and São Paulo Kindergarteners Create a Quilt Together

by Natalie Gootkin, Kindergarten Teacher


The Avenues New York kindergartners have been working alongside Avenues São Paolo kindergartners throughout the year! They spent time getting to know each other through interviews, a greeting card project and now through the creation of a quilt.  

June 4, 2019

Language and Literature in Spanish

by Olga Valeria, Upper Division Spanish Teacher


In Spanish 5 class, upper grades students were introduced to the topic of language and literature.  


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