In Brooklynn New York, ODA created new stacked functions for a school for girls in Crown Heights, in a highly dense urban fabric. Starting with a compact shaped cube, the design of the Beth Rivka School merges the benefits and the creative constraints of a vertical building.
The firm researches alternatives for standard typologies, to find solutions for the limited spaces in expanding cities. In fact, ODA tackles the challenges and potentials of stacked programs and complex verticality. In their approach for the Beth Rivka School, the designers made sure to put in place “more outdoor space to connect inside and outside worlds, voids shaped and treated as real spaces, gaps taking advantage of orientations, in-between spaces controlled to prevent leftover areas, organized layout to maximize walkability.” Every element of this composition is independent and stands on its own.
The 213,000 square-foot building introduced also the concept of a 6th façade, “in the surfaces that define a void”, generating a blurry area, a semi-public space, and a gap of possibilities. Actually, these voids created original experiences and a new dimension. The project consists of a high school, a pre-k, and a community center, attached to the existing four-story, L-shaped, still functional elementary school. The new components have the same traditional and modern materials as the existing part.
The new high school has separate access, that leads towards a “bustling atrium connecting lower floors by non-linear stairways”. Conventional spaces include classrooms, administration, library, and labs whereas more progressive educational spaces are conceived for video, art and multipurpose rooms. The pre-k also has a distinct entrance opening up to a gathering hall and a playground on its roof. In this part of the school, experimental learning happens in an informal setting, in the four spheres of play. Finally, “between the pre-k and the high school sits the shared community facility, equidistant from upper and lower floors and complete with pool, solarium, gym, exercise rooms, auditorium, and two floors of private offices for rent to nonprofit organizations.”