Rensselaer City SD Van Rensselaer Elementary School addition

Rensselaer, New York

Rensselaer City SD Van Rensselaer Elementary School addition

Rensselaer, New York

Van Rensselaer Elementary School was built of red brick in 1930 overlooking the Hudson River and the Albany skyline. Mosaic Associates was called upon to provide additional classrooms and common spaces for a school that was so squeezed its students had to eat lunch in six brief shifts. The challenge was expanding the school – on a limited footprint – without compromising the historic integrity of the stately structure.

Mosaic’s solution was to add a compact three-story 50,000-square-foot elementary school addition, designed to accommodate a fourth floor sometime in the future. The vertical nature of the design presented striking opportunities.

Building up, not out

At the core of the design, the cafeteria and gym are each built on two levels, offset from each other by one floor, allowing students walking the corridors to view the activities below. The library/media center faces west, allowing inspiring views of the river and horizon. Instead of having classrooms on either side of long corridors, they are grouped in clusters of four or five around common areas defined by primary color schemes.

The original cafeteria was converted into a modern kitchen, existing classrooms were refurbished, and building components such as windows and doors were replaced.

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