1000 Westchester Avenue
David E. Gross AIA
Democracy Prep Public Schools
1000 Westchester in the Bronx was designed to accommodate unique program requirements. Democracy Prep Endurance and Bronx Preparatory Elementary, two charter schools serving 540 students between Pre-K through sixth grade, will occupy the building. The six-story building serves as an academic campus of sorts and includes entrances with lobbies to each school on Fox Street and Simpson Street. Grades are separated by floors. Core classrooms can be found on the second through sixth floors while music, art, and dance studios are located on the upper floors. Administrative spaces, kitchen and dining facilities, multi-purpose room, nurse’s station, and gymnasium are shared spaces found on the various floors of the building. The second floor and sixth floor rooftops provide playgrounds utilizing 16’ web nets to provide safe enclosures while providing open views of the neighborhood. 19,879 SF of commercial space on the ground floor facing Westchester Avenue will support local businesses.
The design for 1000 Westchester responds to the program and to the urban environment of the local Bronx community. The 118,303 SF building is taller in the center of the structure where the gym and rooftop playground are located. The massing of the building gradually steps down on the sides to share a common roof line with adjacent buildings and to compete with the visually loud elevated subway tracks along Westchester Avenue.
Brick, precast EIFS panels, and glass compose the building facades. From the second floor and up, large windows fill classrooms with natural light. The windows follow a uniform grid that is highlighted by gold-colored EIFS panels. The façade design on these floors provides the academic spaces with a distinct identity. At street level, school entrances on Fox and Simpson are framed by Dark Iron Spot brick used in a distinct pattern. Gold-colored EIFS panels are utilized to playfully call out the charter school entrances and reflect the banners and flags that identify each charter school. Materials, colors, and signage are integrated into the building design as a means of wayfinding. The final design supports the movement of students throughout the building’s multifaceted spaces and creates a relationship with the existing urban environment that engages local residents economically and socially.