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Harlem Village Academy HS


School Website:

Guiding Principles:

Practical and Efficient Use of Space; Community Excitement and Visibility; Timeless and Classical Aesthetic; Modern Flow; Distributed Resources; Front and Back Door Identities, and Learning Complex.


400 students, grades 9-12. New construction, five-story, 77,000 SF, completed 2013.

Design Features:

Grade Level Academies with Commons Areas, Street Level Retail and Gallery Spaces, Roof Level Network Offices, Small Group Harkness Rooms, Flexible Library Commons Space, Teaching Training Center, and Rooftop Botanical Garden.



New York City, New York

Part of a network of NYC college prep charter schools based in Harlem, HVA High School sought to create a new building that was classical and collegiate on the outside, modern and fluid on the inside, and highly practical in its use of every square inch of the facility.

Cited by former New York Mayor Bloomberg as “a poster child for this country’s schools,” and President Obama as a “model” for his national education agenda, Harlem Village Academies (HVA) is a highly successful network of college preparatory K-12 schools located in East Harlem, New York. New Vista has consulted on numerous projects with HVA, ranging from the creation of fundraising materials and feasibility studies for potential building sites, to hiring architects, developing architectural programs, and monitoring all phases of design for HVA’s new flagship high school building, completed in 2013.

The five-story, 52,000 SF infill building straddles East Harlem’s 124th and 125th streets, and boasts a classical brick façade that is both contextual and collegiate. Designed to house 400 students in grades 9-12, every aspect of the school is intended to promote thoughtful teaching and learning. Grade-level community neighborhoods are organized by floor, each with their own collection of classrooms, “Harkness” seminar rooms, and a centrally located gathering and study areas. HVA Network Offices are located on the 4th floor of the building, along with a Teacher Training Center to accommodate the ongoing professional development that is central to the network’s success. A street-level Art Gallery on 125th street houses community events and public exhibitions of student work. A rooftop garden serves as a study area for the natural sciences and an outdoor learning area for students and teachers.

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The HVA curriculum combines intensive academic coursework with a longer school day and individual student tutoring as needed. Teachers collaborate in department teams to look at student work together, co-plan lessons, analyze assessment data, share best practices and refine instructional strategies. Teacher talent is developed through instructional coaching, data-driven feedback, and the opportunity for peer observation.

Harlem Village Academy has attracted statewide and national attention for its stunning academic success. In a district where roughly 30% of 8th grade students achieve a passing score on statewide math assessments, HVA, which admits its students through a blind lottery, made history as the first eighth-grade class ever in the history of Harlem to achieve 100% passing on the state math test.

Project Numbers


grade levels.





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