Hunter's Point Campus

Hunter’s Point Campus
Queens, NY
145,000 SQ FT
Educational building

Year and month completed: September 2013

Certification: LEED Silver equivalent, complies with requirements of the New York City Green Schools Guide

Project partners:
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

Project Summary:

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:

  1. Movement, circulation, and views between indoor common/circulation spaces and outdoor activity areas are made into key design features, with stairwells and an outdoor terrace as focal points.
  2. The building is organized to give three schools individual identities while distributing shared facilities conveniently accessible by stairways. Doing so encourages brief bouts of walking and stair climbing throughout the day.
  3. Stairs are designed to maximize natural light into the space, are adjacent to the main entrances, and integrated into the design at every floor.
  4. Corridors are activated with natural light, outdoor views, and brightly colored walls. Major shared spaces like the cafeteria and library also feature daylight and outdoor views, helping to support improved mental health during times of socialization and individual study.
  5. The top floor terrace provides an attractive outdoor space for casual recreation and social activity during breaks. This space is a destination and provides a great reason to walk to the top of the building. The railing incorporates colored glass artwork that encourages movement as students shift their vantage to frame different parts of the Manhattan skyline.
  6. The gymnasium is accessible via multiple entry points. It is connected to main stairwells, a workout room, and is large enough to host educational and health programming. Outside of school hours, the gymnasium hosts sports practice, extracurricular clubs, fitness programs (e.g. a morning running program), wide community events (e.g. volleyball tournaments), and YMCA-led activities for the neighborhood.
  7. The Campus’ streetscape is pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly, promoting active commuting among students and local residents. The sidewalks, which are wide, tree-lined, and shaded by an overhanging canopy, have a clear visual connection to the nearby waterfront park.
  8. Outdoor bike racks and indoor bike storage is provided, with the latter holding 40% more capacity than is required by the New York City code.
  • User Side Images Image 571
    Outdoor views are framed by large glass openings, which help to transform the corridors into vibrant leisure spaces. Photo © David Sundberg / Esto Photography.
  • User Side Images Image 572
    Stairwells include large windows, bright lighting, double handrails, and space for two-directional traffic, making them comfortable and enjoyable to use on a daily basis. Photo © David Sundberg / Esto Photography.
  • User Side Images Image 573
    Wide, paved sidewalks, a canopy, bike racks, plantings, and lighting at the building exterior help to promote safe and easy connections to the surrounding pedestrian and cycling networks. Photo © David Sundberg / Esto Photography.
  • 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.