The original manufacturing building was purchased by the NYC Board of Education to warehouse records, but over time as a scarcity of building sites has occurred they’ve converted the 8 storey building (16,700m2) into four separate schools. The last of the four is The Urban Assembly School of Music and Art occupying the top two floors and catering to 432 students. The smaller high school format follows a more specific programme of study (e.g. art & music) in addition to the required high school curriculum.
The exposed concrete construction, existing skylights and large window surfaces all lent themselves well to the conversion process; while the rigidity of the structural grid, vertical penetrations and providing an independent mechanical system posed cost and design challenges. Going against a trend of over-finishing internal spaces, the colour/ finish scheme was strategically applied to allow for spaces to be appropriated (continually adapted) by its users. Simple white wall and ceiling surfaces within the corridor areas with gypsum wall recesses provide wall surfaces for student artwork to be displayed and where colour is used it is a single colour over a large enough area so that an ‘overlay’ of artwork or graphics can be applied.