Collegiate School for Boys
Adaptability and Flexibility; Collaboration and Connections; Purposeful Innovation and Creativity; A Place You Want to Be; Future Orientation with Commitment to Academic Tradition; and Civic Engagement and Leadership
600 students, grades K-12. New construction, 11-stories, 180,000 SF, completed 2017.
Lower, Middle and Upper School Divisions
New York, NY
Founded in 1628, the Collegiate School is an independent K-12 school for boys in New York City that veered from its original plan to renovate its well-loved facility on the Upper West Side and decided to develop a brand new 11-story building 18 blocks to the South.
Ranked in 2007 by The Wall Street Journal as the number one independent school in the world, based on the percent of the senior class matriculating to eight selective American colleges, the Collegiate School for Boys occupied a surprisingly unassuming, well-worn and low-tech building for over 100 years. Which is why the administration’s decision to design a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 11-story building had its faculty, students and families asking themselves some soul-searching questions: How would they maintain the intimacy and warmth of their Lower, Middle and Upper School divisions? How would they balance a classical academic approach with new and emerging technologies? And how would they represent and curate almost 400 years of history and tradition within a new and modern building?
New Vista Design was contacted by Collegiate leadership in 2013, after their two-year design effort had resulted in the schematic design for a new building that no one was happy with. Working with the entire Collegiate faculty, and a Design Leadership Team of 12 administrators and teachers, New Vista facilitated a year-long, ground-up visioning process that resulted in the creation of a clear set of academic and architectural priorities that everyone could buy-in to and get excited about. New Vista then assisted in the hiring of a new architectural firm to help Collegiate realize its vision. In 2015, Studios Architecture was hired to rework the interior of the previously designed building footprint.
The resulting building has been a smashing success. Completed in 2018, it seeks to create discrete, compelling and inviting experiences on each of its 11 floors, nine of which are above ground. Two lower level floors house the school’s auditorium and athletic facilities, while the entry floor houses the administrative and welcoming functions as well as a multi-purpose dining area that can be sub-divided for lower and upper school dining and other functions. Each school division, Lower, Middle and Upper, occupies its own two-floor section of the building, and contains a double height commons area that provides vertical connection. The school’s library occupies its own floor, as do the art and music departments. An outdoor play yard and 9th floor roof deck each serve as outdoor environments for learning and athletics.
A decision was made early on in the design process to make the building more about Collegiate’s present and future than its past. To these ends, most wall surfaces within the building’s interior are painted white in order to serve as backdrops for the display of school culture and student work, as well selected historical artifacts. All classrooms, offices and meeting rooms have been placed around the perimeter of the building’s L-shaped footprint, while its central spine contains “activity areas” designed to be “immersive and bright” for the Lower School, “focused and balanced” for the Middle School, and “task-oriented and high-performance” for the Upper School.