1475 Macombs Road
David E. Gross AIA
Zeta Charter Schools
Zeta Bronx Mount Eden Elementary School located at Macombs Road is an 8-story charter school. The design solution emphasizes a utilitarian form with a cadenced grid facade that is playfully broken up with accent-colored piers. Site restrictions, covid-era challenges, and a desire to connect Macombs to a nearby affiliated campus played significant roles in the final design for the urban charter school.
The property contains a two-hundred-year-old sewer system running between the building and the adjacent lot. The historic conduit posed limitations, rendering construction above it unfeasible. The resulting design is a compact, cantilevered building which leaves the conduit safely untouched and provides students with a large open playing field at ground level. The cantilevered design calls attention to the school entrance and the playing field, both nestled away from Macombs Road, a busy thoroughfare. The playing field is slightly elevated to prevent interference with the conduit’s access points.
The building structure is poured in place concrete. To streamline the process, the façade was created using prefabricated EIFS panels that have a polished stucco finish. These panels, fully assembled off-site, facilitated an installation that could meet time-sensitive requirements. Thin set brickwork is built within the panels for a subtle variation in texture. Gold-colored EIFS is used for vertical accent-colored piers. Architectural glazing provides generous light into the triple height gym that crowns the building.
Construction of Macombs charter school embraced modern technologies. Construction began during the covid pandemic. In response to health and wellness concerns, a high-performance outdoor air system was implemented for the school. Independent ventilation was specified for each individual occupied space. The ventilation system is equipped with an energy recovery system and system controls intelligently reset supply-air temperature in response to building loads or outside air temperature.
The Macombs Road location is one of two properties which will provide an innovative whole-child learning experience for young families in the Bronx. Students in PreK through First grade will be housed in an academic facility located nearby on Jerome Avenue. Macombs, the larger of the two campuses, will serve second through eighth grade students. The 74,377 SF charter school will accommodate 650 children with core classrooms, specialty classrooms, science labs/rooms, maker/innovation space, small instructional spaces, offices, conference rooms, cafeteria, kitchen, a gymnatorium, bathrooms, and 7,285 SF of outdoor play and athletic space. Both charter schools are designed by GF55 Architects.
Macombs is under construction and targeted for completion in 2023.