PKSB Architects

PS 89M



The interior of this primary school was designed as a microcosm of the urban environment. Nestled at the base of a new mixed-use apartment tower, the school integrates the surrounding cityscape including the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street, which are both visible through generous windows. An innovative program brings together students from kindergarten to the eighth grade in order to mingle children of different ages and accommodate a range of teaching methods.

The school was organized as a series of classroom clusters linked by corridors analogous to city streets and neighborhoods. Tall, light-filled corridors facilitate access to the classrooms on one side, and the major public spaces — such as the cafeteria, auditorium and gym — located on the other. Along the corridors, multipurpose spaces are allocated for activities that may spill out from the classrooms or other group events. As in the city, daily movement through these hallways also stimulates informal instruction or chance conversation among students and teachers.

Each classroom is designed as an enclosed space with a windowed wall that recalls city storefronts and creates visual and functional connections to the larger life of the school. Designed for flexibility, classroom size and space can vary depending on need by means of moveable wall panels. The more public areas are concentrated on the ground floor and in a vertical “activity core” located in the school’s center. On the fifth floor, this core is transformed into an outdoor terrace with glazed walls that provide natural light to the library and public corridors.