75 Morton Street in the West Village is one of New York City’s newest public middle schools. The 10-year journey to build this project is the result of the tireless efforts of local parents and community leaders who saw a need for a middle school to meet the growing student population in their neighborhood. The collaboration between the community, elected officials, Department of Education and the New York City School Construction Authority produced a publicly funded 1000 seat school, which opened in September of the 2018 school year.
Built in 1919 as a warehouse and modified overtime, this existing 7-story steel-framed building has been completely renovated. The school’s program and challenging site required creative solutions to allow for innovative light-filled spaces for learning.
Loading docks were converted into the new school entrances. The generous first floor ceiling height allowed for the creation of a voluminous lobby stretching from Morton to Barrow Streets. A welcoming space to all that enter, the lobby is endowed with two public art installations, one of which is an overhead mobile of resin ornaments referencing a time when this area was part of the historic printing district. The expansive glazed walls throughout the first floor allow for the building to be visually open to the neighborhood maximizing the interaction and connection between the school and the public.
All the new spaces throughout the building are strategically designed to minimize the disruption of the existing structure while creating visual interest. To make room for programmatic requirements, such as the 6th floor gymatorium (gym/auditorium) and dance studio, part of the existing structure was removed and reconfigured to create a column-free space for a basketball court and stage.
Corridors were designed to wind through the building opening onto common spaces on each floor, providing areas for students to interact and fully realize the schools mission to “inquire, question, create and evolve”. A green roof garden from American Hydrotech, which was requested by the community, was added to the program for outdoor learning and environmentally friendly design.
After years of neglect and multiple insensitive modifications, the original façade was beyond repair. The severely compromised exterior masonry wall was stripped and completely replaced by high-performance aluminum windows and a new terra-cotta panel rainscreen system from NBK.
The adaptive reuse of this underutilized building helps to beautify a prominent corner in this ever-evolving neighborhood. Designed to foster learning and creativity, the building provides a much-needed facility available to serve not only the needs of the students but to the greater community as well.
Architect: Ciardullo Architecture & Engineering
MEP Engineer: DVL Consulting Engineers
General Contractor: Leon D. DeMatteis Construction
Site Civil Engineers: AKRF
Artist for Public Art Installation: Jeanne Quinn
PHOTOS: Stuart D. Phillips