The Stephen Gaynor School and Ballet Hispanico

The Stephen Gaynor School and Ballet Hispanico

The Stephen Gaynor School and Ballet Hispanico are existing, separate institutions that collaborated on the commission of a new 12-story, 50,000 sf building on West 90th Street in Manhattan. The intent of this project is to provide discrete and highly specific spaces for each owner within a shared envelope. 

AIANY State Award of Merit | AIANY Design Awards, Merit Award in Architecture | BSA/AIA NY Chapter Honor Award for Design Excellence | Concrete Industry Board Award of Merit with Special Recognition | NYC Art Commission Commendation Competition Winner. Full list of awards
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The Gaynor School is a private elementary and middle school for children with learning difficulties, and inhabits the first seven floors, including the gym/cellar. The Ballet expanded their existing facility from their building on 89th Street to include the top three floors above the Gaynor school. 

The project recaptures the intimate spirit of the school’s former small brownstone site by dividing the program into upper and lower schools, stitched together with a generous atrium stair. The design addresses the unique needs of these students who often have orientation and navigation challenges. The building’s concrete structure visible inside creates spatial geometries particular to each floor. This strategy, coupled with the interconnecting stair, means there is almost no spatial repetition in order to create an environment where architecture and pedagogy merge to enhance spatial cognition and navigation skills.

The upper and lower schools intersect at a common core curriculum level featuring shared art, science, occupational therapy and library spaces. An outdoor classroom above a large library window gives students a visual connection to the surrounding neighborhood. The Ballet Hispanico above the Gaynor School houses three large studios, new offices, and services for the company and school staff. The studios are floor-through spaces to allow optimal natural light and ventilation, and to permit a broad range of choreographic possibilities. Each studio has panoramic views of the city to the north and south.