Bronx Charter School for the Arts, Hunts Point

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The design of the Bronx Charter School for the Arts reflects the school’s founding principle that arts education is critical to human development and learning. Color, space, and natural light create a direct physical connection with the content and aims of the curriculum. Through its adaptive re-use of an old factory, the school plays a role in the transformation of its industrial Hunts Point neighborhood. To achieve a healthy environment that enhances the learning spaces despite budget and site restrictions, a simple innovative approach was needed. A design process that involved community and future teaching staff resulted in a unique, light-filled space that dovetails with Bronx Art’s educational mission.

The use of brightly colored glazed tile for the façade contributes a strong street presence, called for by the school’s mission to promote community participation through the arts. Wide openings and minimal division of continuous space serve the founders’ goal of using the built environment to encourage openness and communication.

Many low cost sustainable features were incorporated and the building far exceeds the minimum standards for air changes, filtered fresh air and in particular natural light both for productivity and to reduce lighting loads. The decision to reuse the façade structure, adding a new insulated brick layer, brought energy and material savings. Many of the materials used are of minimum 80% recycled content. The long rows of north facing skylights with insulated clerestories ensure ample natural light in the classrooms while limiting heat gain. The skylights bring ethereal natural light into the deep interior spaces of the former cold storage warehouse, throughout the day.

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