PKSB’s approach to developing institutional buildings stems from the idea that the best environments for learning offer opportunities for social interaction beyond the classroom. These ideas were implemented at the Primary and Intermediate School 89 in Lower Manhattan. The project’s new program resulted in a layout that functions more as a village than a typical academic facility. Corridors are treated as public streets; classrooms are envisioned as private homes; shared facilities such as the cafeteria, gym, library and dance studio act as the town’s civic buildings, each sitting at the intersection of “streets” which form a “town center.” The “town centers” were an entirely original addition to the school’s existing program and have proven to be effective spaces for learning and development.
PKSB has executed this formula for learning space to all of our educational designs including Public Facilities for the School Construction Authority and private organizations such as the Allen Stevenson School. “The role of buildings is to support the people and what they do, how they come together,” says David Trower, Headmaster at Allen Stevenson. “We needed architects who would understand that intuitively.” PKSB’s educational spaces exhibit an innate understanding of those powerful social interactions. Recognizing the firm’s outstanding design, Mayor Bloomberg selected the Pioneer Academy as the venue for delivering his 2008 State of the City address to demonstrate the success of his efforts to build better schools.