PS340 is the partial conversion (lower six floors of a 14 storey high-rise) of a 1989 hospital building situated in the centre of NYC. The remaining floors above will remain in hospital use for non-acute medical care and administrative offices, while the remaining medical services have moved out to a new building outside the city which is tailored to the technology advances in patient treatments. The split use of the building has required separate access with the hospital’s entrance on the main road (6th Avenue) and the school’s along the quieter 17th street which helps to mitigate the dense urban conditions for a primary school.
The building bulk, orientation and structural module of the existing building accommodated the school program well, while the 2008 building code revisions played a constraining role in the conversion process particularly for life safety systems in a high-rise building (e.g. fire alarms, shared egress paths). ‘Niches’ along the corridor space serve as break-out spaces for small class groups as well as allow an increase of natural light to flow into the central spaces. The vertical layout of the school works well to accommodate community use during off hours allowing the large, shared school spaces in the cellar, ground floor and second floor to be secured from the classrooms above.