Central Brooklyn Ascend Charter School
465 E 29th St., Brooklyn, NY 465 E 29th St., Brooklyn, NY 465 East 29th St., Brooklyn, NY 11226 Educational

A renovation of an existing school in Brooklyn to meet the requirements of a Charter School group who cares greatly about their students’ learning environment

Ascend Public Charter Schools asked us to work with them on the renovation of an existing school building. The school itself was scheduled to be closed down, and Ascend wanted to turn the building into a Lower School to be known as Central Brooklyn Ascend Charter School (CBACS). Originally built in 1962 by the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese, the building’s interior finishes are generally in good condition. The Diocese agreed to take responsibility for the renovations of the exterior as part of the new lease agreement.

Prior to the signing of the Lease Agreement, we worked with the Ascend Construction and Real Estate Team to undertake test-fits to confirm that the program for a Lower School would fit within the building.

After the lease was agreed, there was a limited amount of time to complete the drawings before construction would need to begin. Construction needed to be completed by the middle of August in order for teachers to move in and undertake on-site training. Alongside the client, we developed a schedule for undertaking documentation work and developed a strategy for construction. The first phase, in the summer of 2015, was predominantly finishes, new doors, and miscellaneous hardware refurbishment to bring the building up to Ascend’s standards. More significant plumbing and HVAC changes were scheduled for Phase 2 during the summer of 2016.

The full construction work included new finishes throughout the interior spaces; an extensive upgrade of the electrical and lighting systems; major revisions to the bathrooms and plumbing systems; and new air-conditioning in all classrooms, offices and the multi-purpose room (MPR).

The construction took place over two consecutive summers (to coincide 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 budget for the project was very tight and it did not allow for any major design features, with the most significant upgrade being new LED light fixtures throughout. With limited design opportunities our focus was on making sure that wherever possible all conduit and cabling was concealed within the wall and in developing a series of finishes that felt both exciting and professional. This was prompted by Ascend’s strong belief that students at their schools should be immersed in a high-quality environment, without feeling like corners were cut or compromises were made at their expense.

The most challenging aspect of the work at CBACS was in developing a color scheme. Colored ceramic blockwork in the existing classrooms and corridors, with a different color on each floor, meant that we were limited to selecting a color which best complemented the existing block tones. Working very closely with the client we undertook an extensive series of paint samples to identify the shades of grey and white which were eventually chosen. The commitment from the client and ourselves to getting the small decisions and details ‘right’ can be felt throughout the building.

You can read an expanded explanation of the process regarding this project here.

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