Morris Heights Educational Complex
This new elementary and middle school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in the Bronx is an artful presence in the community. Designed to serve 670 young students, the four-story building curves around the corner; its 95,000 square feet are clad in a colorful design of brick, terracotta and glass.
One of the design’s highlights is a “digital canvas” marking the entrance. This electronic billboard, part of the city’s “Percent for Art” program, displays art works by both the students and artists, as well as community messages. The digital canvas creates a unique opportunity for the students to interact with and collaborate with professional artists to better their community.
Responding to the difficult urban siting, LHP worked with the SCA to expand the original 23,000 square foot site, splitting off an additional 15,000 square feet from the adjacent school, IS 232. In so doing, the building was able to accommodate the full PS/IS program of spaces on four floors over a partial basement. The new school has a dedicated Early Childhood play area and shares an existing playground with the neighboring school.
The architects responded to this important corner site at a major intersection in the Bronx by maintaining the large curve of the property line and reflecting the character of the neighborhood. The primary entrance is located in proximity to surface transportation and major pedestrian crosswalks. The curved building created challenges in accommodating prototypical room layouts which the designers modified to meet pie shaped configurations.