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Vast automobile mechanic workshops are a unique component of this urban vocational school.

 

The Alfred E. Smith High School, located in the South Bronx, was built in 1938 with additions made in 1963. For the renovation of its library, the school was seeking greater flexibility in its everyday uses, including the addition of study, meeting, and discussion areas for students, teachers, and parents.

 

The school’s vocational aspects galvanized the overall design concept for the space, serving as an inspiration for the large faceted soffit suspended within it. Conceived as a geometrical progression, it is double helix in form, repeating modules of twelve triangular facets. This element, which serves as a sound attenuator and spatial modulator, highlights the arts and crafts focuses of the high school.

 

The sequence of spaces in the new library is articulated by modular and movable furniture that can be reconfigured easily to produce the client’s desired new uses. The library’s materials and technologies, such as shades that reduce glare but allow penetration of natural light, as well as energy efficient light fixtures, responded to the latest environmental standards and followed specific environmental requirements developed with the client.

 

This project is part of a transformative series of                                  school libraries that are expanding their educational purposes by unifying New York City student communities in new ways.

Selected Publications/Exhibits

CultureNOW – A.E. Smith High School Library - 2012

Architonic – A. E. Smith High School Library - May 2010

AIANY New York Now group exhibit, New York, NY – October 2009