Hunter’s Point Campus
145,000 SQ FT
Year and month completed: September 2013
Certification: LEED Silver equivalent, complies with requirements of the New York City Green Schools Guide
Project Owner/Client: New York City School Construction Authority
Design Team: FXFOWLE
Engineers (Structural, Civil, Mechanical): Kallen & Lemelson
Landscape: Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc.
Lighting: Tillotson Design Associates
Acoustical: Cerami & Associates
The development of Hunter’s Point Campus (HPC), a new school in Queens, New York, provided a prime opportunity for designers to address local health risks of rising childhood obesity rates. In New York City overall, 40% of the nearly 637,000 children in kindergarten through the eighth grade were found to be overweight or obese in 2008-9 and in a nearby Queens neighborhood, this number reached as high as 51%. With a population of over 1,000 students, HPC was developed with a strong vision of counteracting obesity rates, specifically designed to cultivate physical activity both inside and outside the building. One parent noted that since HPC’s opening in September 2013, physical education has become a vital part of the students’ comprehensive education program, positively affecting life-long health and well-being.
HPC was developed as a major component, and the first completed, of the Hunter’s Point South project—a mixed-use development plan, offering affordable housing, retail, open space, and public schools along 30 acres of waterfront property in Queens. HPC is designed to reinforce strong visual and physical connections to its surroundings, particularly the adjacent sports field, waterfront park, and panoramic views of Manhattan and the East River. The Campus’ streetscape design supports these connections and enhances the pedestrian environment with street trees, curb extensions, wide sidewalks, and bike racks. These features help to integrate the school into wider active transportation networks.
The building design further enlivens the streetscape by providing transparency into the school’s indoor activities. A line of vibrant orange metal panels wrap around the building’s façade, framing and highlighting glass openings around key common spaces and circulation areas. This orange ribbon continues through the interior, wrapping around circulation spaces and areas for congregation, reflecting how students travel through the building and emphasizing movement. Large windows at the end of corridors allow outside light and views to activate the interior spaces while showcasing areas of movement on the exterior. In these ways, HPC’s overall aesthetic serves as one of its major Active Design elements, as it not only promotes movement inside and out, but also makes physical activity a driving component of the building’s visual identity.
Beyond inspiring movement, HPC’s design integrates circulation patterns between three different schools in the same building. All are connected by large, welcoming, and open staircases, which are clad in glass curtain walls that provide daylight and stunning views to the city beyond. Shared amenities such as the library, auditorium, cafeteria, and an adjoining outdoor terrace are scattered vertically throughout the 5-story campus, promoting daily stair use by students and staff. Outside of school hours, HPC welcomes students and the wider community to take advantage of its facilities for recreational and fitness programming, with its gym located at ground level to encourage this shared use. HPC is a model of how the design of public schools can be used to impact the health of its students, staff, and surrounding community through emphasis on daily movement and connections between indoor and outdoor activities.
Active Design Highlights:
Designers play a crucial role in combating the most rapidly growing public health epidemics of our time: obesity and its related chronic diseases.
Health expenses compete with housing costs. Lower-income adults, who suffer from high rates of chronic disease, have the greatest difficulty affording insurance related costs.