BBS Architects, Landscape Architects & Engineers has completed an $18.1 million historic renovation and expansion of the 60,500-square-foot Prospect School in Hempstead, N.Y. HUFSD has retained BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers to review the possibility of redeveloping, modernizing, and reopening the Prospect School, which was shut down and abandoned in 2003. BBS performed a review of the building’s technical condition and analyzed the district’s spacial and programming needs. HUFSD, at the time, utilized a high number of temporary, portable trailer-type facilities for educational purposes and was leasing properties for kindergarten-level schools.

The results of the analysis led to the development of a plan to convert the Prospect School into a kindergarten center that would serve the entire school district. BBS developed the initial design program and a preliminary budget.

In addition to architect, interior designer, and MEP and civil engineer BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers, the project team included structural engineer Thomas D. Reilly, P.E., construction manager Elite Construction of NY, general contractor VRD Contracting, and food service consultant Bar-Boy.

Located at 265 Peninsula Boulevard in Hempstead, N.Y., the 45,000-square-foot existing building was completed in 1906, when the area still maintained a rural character. The school features brick infill walls and ornamental cast stone elements.

Architecture and construction

Re-opening of the Prospect School marks a dramatic and positive turning point for the economically challenged community, which is receiving a state-of-the-art school for its youngest students.

“Our design efforts focused on redeveloping a dormant structure into a vibrant, ultra-modern educational facility within a beloved historic school building,” said Roger P. Smith, AIA, LEED AP. “The completion of this project signifies the community's and the district's commitment to providing students with life and professional opportunities, a quality education, and safe, contemporary, and hi-tech facilities,” he added

The 16-month construction project encompassed a complete renovation and expansion of the original three-story Prospect School building, construction of a one-story addition, site improvements, and ADA compliance upgrades. The newly re-opened school will house approximately 600 students in the 2013-14 school year.  It features 32 educational spaces, including 22 regular classrooms and nine small group and special instruction classrooms.

The renovation created one of the most technologically advanced public kindergarten facilities in the Greater New York area. The school features six computer stations for students and one teacher’s computer in every classroom, interactive boards with projectors controlled by either the teacher’s station or the central communication and data system, wireless Internet access throughout the entire school, a library with multiple computer stations, and extensive T-6 data and telecommunications wiring imbedded in the new walls for future technological upgrades.

“The new school will create a sense of community among the students and parents, because all of the kindergartners within the district will begin their education at the same building. The high quality of the school's design will allow all of the young students to enter the school system with a feeling of pride, a respect for education, and hope for the future” explained BBS Project Manager Ken Schupner, R.A.“

The renovation included the replacement of all windows (over 100) and doors, replacement of approximately 15 percent of the brick, and a complete cleaning and repointing of all of the exterior walls. During an early design phase it was discovered that the original brick had an intense, bright red, almost orange color, which was covered by soot and dirt for more than a century. The architectural team matched the color and shape of the brick when designing the addition in the back of the main building. The school features custom-made double-hung, gridded insulated windows with two glass panes, all of which were manufactured by Architectural Windows.

The exterior repairs also included restoration and replacement of several ornamental copper elements, including gutters and horizontal accents. When restoration was not possible, the original design was carefully replicated in durable aluminum. The crews replicated approximately 300 linear feet of ornamental metalwork.

The construction crews replaced the entire roof and repaired its structural support. The roof includes a flat section, now finished with the SBS modified bitumen roofing membrane system, and a pitched section, which features the GAF Timberline architectural shingles in mixed color tones.

The one-story, steel-framed addition features a slab-on-grade foundation, a brick façade with cast stone architectural details, and a flat roof. Its strongly articulated entrance serves as the new main entryway into the entire school complex. Quoins (extruding corner bricks) accentuate the solid, dependable look of the building. The brick of the new section matches the dimensions and color of the original school’s exterior.

The renovated and expanded school features a new four-stop elevator located in a shaft that’s a part of the addition. The old school did not include an elevator, a necessary ADA element. To fulfill ADA requirements, the school’s new main entrance is located at a grade level and doesn't feature stairs.

The main building’s layout presented the designers with several challenges. The old classrooms were small and did not meet current educational standards. The original design featured many obstacles, such as structural elements, three stairs, and five chimneys. The existing building’s systems were deteriorated. BBS redesigned the layout while minimizing the amount of necessary construction and preserving the building’s valuable historic elements, such as stairways with ornamental iron handrails.