Built in the historic TriBeCa neighborhood in lower Manhattan, the building teaches its pupils and neighborhood residents about architectural history, construction techniques, and the history of the city and its waterfront. An exterior perimeter wall with its brick arches, curved corners, and deeply set industrial windows echoes the surrounding 19th century mercantile buildings. The cylindrical turret-both lighthouse and castle tower-marks the former river edge and guards the enclosed play courtyard. Porcelain medallions and a decorative fence by artist Donna Dennis are an open book of local history, illustrating scenes from the vanished Washington Market and silhouettes of the clippers, lighters, ferries, tugboats, and barges that once sailed past this point. Classrooms overlook the courtyard to maximize light and views on a site surrounded by high-rise commercial buildings. Children arrive through an entrance gate, across the courtyard, and through a turret-a three-step transition from the outside world. Two smaller turrets serve kindergartens on the ground floor, so that the youngest children have direct access to the courtyard. Widened circulation spaces on each floor function as "commons" with stepped seating for informal gatherings, performances and study groups. At the time of its construction, PS 234 was the first new school built by the New York City Board of Education in almost 15 years, and the first public school in TriBeCa. It accommodates 700 children from Kindergarten through 5th Grade.

Constructed, ca 1988


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