New York City’s History Schools

A History and Guide to Rehabilitation

The New York City School Construction Authority, through its technical design and construction departments and with the assistance of the technical professional community, acts as steward of the physical fabric of New York City’s public schools. Since its creation in 1989, the Authority has been responsible for the design and construction of capital replacement and rehabilitation projects for the 1,400 school buildings under the jurisdiction of the NYC Department of Education.

This Guide has been developed as a practical and technical resource to assist in the evaluation and design for the restoration of historic school buildings (more than 45 years old). It is worth noting that over half of our public school buildings are more than 60 years old! It is our intention to facilitate strategies for these projects that will target cost effective solutions while at the same time respecting their historic standing as landmarks in the community.

New York City has a broad variety of historically significant schools of varying architectural and structural styles, and the so the Guide gives advice as to methodologies for the rehabilitation or replacement of similar historic systems and materials. While we see some recurrence of materials and systems, the historic schools designs were continually improved and updated, so it is safe to say that no two schools are identical. The case studies included here provide insights for Architects and Engineers for design and construction practices.

I want to thank the staff at SCA, our consultant design partners, and the New York State Historic Preservation Office for all of their input and professionalism on the many renovation projects we have undertaken to benefit our historic schools building. Special thanks go to Bruce Nelligan, Architect, who has not only been involved in many renovations, but also wrote and coordinated this Guide, and to the firms of RKT&B and Superstructures who contributed case studies. Putting together this guide could not have been accomplished without the input of key SCA staff: George Roussey, Tom Nielsen and Effie Tsitiridis.

It is all of our hope that this guide offers an opportunity for technical professionals to better understand school design and construction of the past, so that they may apply the lessons learned to restoration work of historic schools in the future.

E. Bruce Barrett
Vice President, Architecture & Engineering
New York City School Construction Authority

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