Originally constructed in 1912, PS 721 is comprised of solid load-bearing masonry walls with steel floor beams. Water infiltration has caused severe deterioration of the walls, flooring, and ceiling throughout the majority of the school’s cellar.
PS 721 Manhattan is five stories plus a cellar totaling approximately 113,554 square feet. This H-plan building is located in the historic West Village of Manhattan and is styled in a simplified gothic manner. As with many buildings this age, it lacked elements that allowed all users to utilize the building regardless of ability. This accessibility campaign was the third phase of repair work we conducted at the school. The previous two campaigns sought to eliminate water infiltration at the basement, exterior walls, and roof.
Not only did PS 721M not have an elevator, but there was no area for rescue assistance nor were any of the restrooms accessible as per the New York City Building Code. In addition, the existing auditorium did not provide accessible access to the stage or wheelchair locations within the general seating. Our design sought to provide an elevator and accessible restrooms in addition to resolving the other accessibility concerns. The proposed scope of work included a full re-design of the auditorium space. Great care was taken to implement these changes without affecting the historic nature of the building.
The two new stair bulkheads and elevator penthouse are located at the sides of the building so as not to be easily visible from the street. All new interior work was to match the character of the exiting finishes and style.