Bushwick Ascend Middle School
2 Aberdeen St., Brooklyn, NY 2 Aberdeen St., Brooklyn, NY 2 Aberdeen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11207 Educational

A two phase renovation transforming an old Catholic Diocese school into a new Charter school

We collaborated with Andersen-Miller Design on the design, documentation, and construction administration for the phased renovation of the 26,750 square foot dis-used educational space. Originally built in 1934 by the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese, the building required reworking of the office areas; upgraded finishes throughout; and various changes to aspects in all classrooms, offices, and the multi-purpose room (MPR).

The construction took place over two summers (to fit in with the school summer recesses) and involved careful coordination with the contractor and the school administrators to ensure that the schedule was met and there were no delays to the commencement of the school year.

The building was constructed in the 1930’s and hadn’t been occupied for 3 – 4 years. There was some water damage on the upper floor and the wall finishes were in poor condition throughout with a lot of damaged plaster. The doors and hardware were damaged to such an extent that it wasn’t cost effective to repair them. The building systems were also in poor shape, and considerable general maintenance was required. It appeared that little had been spent on maintenance throughout the years, and the building was in need of a lot of upgrades.  Programmatically, there were ample classrooms, but a deficiency in the number of office spaces, intensive small teaching spaces, and staff bathrooms.

However the building was not without opportunities. The classrooms have wonderful proportions and are flooded with light whilst the corridors are wide with generous floor to ceiling heights.

Construction was a challenge because of the limited window of time to do so much work (end of June to end of August) and was greatly complicated by external factors.

This project is another collaboration with Ascend Public Charter Schools where there has been a significant amount of post-occupancy work. A minimal approach was taken in the initial project so that the school could be functional and operational in the shortest possible time. The school then occupied the building and identified areas for potential improvements.  With this occupancy generated list of improvements, Ascend, along with the contractor, were then able to generate rough costs for each improvement and thus select which were most important to prioritize.

The site is very close to above-grade subway tracks and the initial analysis had indicated that classrooms could function satisfactorily as trains passed by. However once classes started the teachers felt the noise was too much of a distraction and a solution was required. We worked with acoustic engineers, Lally & Partners, to measure the levels of noise and identify gaps and weaknesses in sound proofing. Through this process it was determined sound entering through the windows and air-conditioning units. Working with them we came up with a design for a ‘storm’ type window with a sound-insulated box for the AC units that could be applied on top of the existing window system. The revised system reduced the noise levels by approximately 10 decibels.

Other changes included redesigning the administrative office suite, adding new lighting and sound absorbing ceiling panels to the MPR space, and revisions to the exterior play space to enhance the students’ experience.

Project Details >