Oculus - Spring 2011 - (Page 25)

feature School Back in Session after 30-Year Recess The historic but dilapidated P.S. 90 provided a perfect opportunity for adaptive reuse. Now condos and choreography do a pas de deux BY CLAIRE WILSON hen Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, LEED AP, first laid eyes on P.S. 90, the roof was gone. There were no windows. Trees sprouted from the top of the building, which had been abandoned in the 1970s, a casualty of the city’s fiscal crisis. Derelict apartment buildings lined the street. No one walking that block of West 148th Street in Manhattan today would find evidence of that dreary chapter now. P.S. 90 is a stellar 1907 example of Collegiate Gothic architecture designed by Charles B.J. Snyder, the superintendent and chief architect for NYC schools from 1891 to 1922. Ginsberg’s firm, Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, tucked 75 bright, spacious new condo units into the old school. What was once the school’s basement and auditorium is now home to the National Dance Institute (NDI), a nonprofit dance education program founded in 1976 by Jacques d’ Amboise, former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. All the older, low-rise residential dwellings along the street have been refurbished, most by L+M Development Partners, the developer of the PS90 Condominiums. Ginsberg recalls what a mess the school was at the outset, covered with mold and still filled with desks, chairs, and school paraphernalia. It was also dangerous. “If you stepped in the wrong place you’d go right through the slab,” says Ginsberg. Replacing those slabs on all five floors was the first order of business. Next was designing a layout using the original window configuration of the throughblock “H” plan inspired by Paris’s Hotel de Cluny. The architect then devised attractive, double-hung, operable windows with a third, fixed pane at the top. The exterior frames are painted to match the decorative details on the building’s façade. For the lobby, Ginsberg dropped the ground floor to create a double-height space that also provides elevators between the lobby and all floors. “Coming in on the ground level to a double-height lobby created a much more gracious entrance,” Ginsberg says. An elegant new staircase leads up to the first floor, which opens onto a common garden court yard, designed by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects Thomas H. Kieren/Architectural & Interiors Photography W (right above) P.S. 90, pre-restoration. (right below) The meticulously restored 1907 façade of PS90: even the parapets, because of extensive water damage, had to be entirely rebuilt using almost all of the original terra-cotta, which was painstakingly removed, restored, then reassembled – like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Project Credits CLIENT/DEVELOPER: L&M Development Partners ARCHITECT: Curtis + Ginsberg Architects DESIGN TEAM: Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, LEED AP, Beth Cooper Lawrence, AIA, LEED AP, Cassie S. Walker, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Goldstein Associates Consulting Engineer MEP ENGINEER: Rodkin Cardinale Consulting Engineers STRUCTURAL FAÇADE CONSULTANT: Old Structures Engineering LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners DESIGN CONSULTANT FOR NATIONAL DANCE INSTITUTE: H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture DESIGN CONSULTANT: The Norsworthy Fund GENERAL CONTRACTOR/ INTERIOR DESIGN: L&M Builders Group Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, at the back of the building. The sunken, landscaped entryway at the front has the pleasant feel of a garden oasis slightly below street level. Twenty of the 75 units are affordable housing and, except for finishes, identical to the market-rate condos. The dance institute will use residential units as offices (d’ Amboise will also be a tenant), and the lower level for studios and a performance space. “There is a beautiful synergy with the fact that it is a revitalized public school and we are a public-schoolbased program,” says Kathy Landau, executive director of NDI, which teaches 4,000 students citywide. PS90 incorporates a number of sustainable features: insulated low-E glass windows; Energy Star appliances; energy-efficient heat pumps, boilers, and light fixtures; light-colored paving materials on the rooftop and courtyards; and drought-resistant plantings. Most importantly, adaptive reuse preserved the existing building’s embodied energy and its incalculable beauty. It was a long, hard project, says Ginsberg, but restoring “this wonderful, historic building” was well worth it. ■ Claire Wilson writes for the New York Times. Design for a Change: Buildings, People, Energy Spring 2011 Oculus 25

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Spring 2011

Oculus - Spring 2011
First Words
A Word from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: A Critique of Pure Sustainability
Testing Green Ideas
New Life for a Boomer Building
School Back in Session After 30-Year Recess
It Takes More Than a Village
Shedding Light
What Every Architect Should Know About NYC’s New Energy Laws
Good Practices
44-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Spring 2011