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for Arts & Letters and The Clinton Hill School/PS 20
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz Office of the Brooklyn Borough President Brooklyn Borough Hall 209 Joralemon Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 Dear Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz, We are incredibly excited to submit our Green Roof Project proposal, an exciting growth and adaptation from our recent proposal, and our revised big idea! While we learned that a rooftop gymnasium is not possible, a Green Roof is, and provides everything that a gymnasium would and more (with the exception of a covered space during inclement weather). While our proposed Green Roof design offers the traditional gymnasium spaces for basketball, volleyball, and track, it offers much more, even in terms of sports. We have incorporated a rock climbing wall and a handball court (two student favorites), as well as a dedicated fitness surface of permanent rubber matting. A Green Roof for Arts & Letters and the Clinton Hill School provides a modern and ecologically friendly health and fitness space, surrounded by the beauty of the natural world – beautiful blue sky and fresh air – as well as the beauty of Fort Greene’s historic architecture, skyline, and trees. In addition to sports and fitness areas, our proposed Green Roof would provide an amphitheater for performances, a greenhouse, eating and gathering areas, as well as multiple Science stations. The curricular uses are endless, whether Health & Fitness, Science, Performing Arts, or gathering areas for Humanities discussions, Advisory classes, book clubs, and afterschool groups. In short, the Green Roof would provide an incredibly large “swing space” – an expansive (and priceless) alternative space outside of the traditional classroom used to maximize the number of students engaged in enriching, hands-on learning at any given time. At any hour, 4 or 5 entire classes of students could comfortably be utilizing the Green Roof, each engaged in the different activities that the varied spaces allow. In essence, the Green Roof adds at least 5 classrooms full of space to our shared school building, and technically adds even more. Not only is this space desperately needed, but the Green Roof offers an incredibly exciting and energy efficient solution, and one that inspires enhanced curriculum, “green” living and learning, and new big ideas! The Green Roof Project is a tangible symbol of investing in our Brooklyn children and investing in public education, and doing it whole-heartedly, sparing no expense. The Green Roof Project shows students (and teachers and families) that beautiful, modern spaces are not reserved solely for the corporate world to work and play within, but that our communities can also have them, and we deserve to. What follows is our design, born of the past weeks’ j oint meetings, roof walk-throughs, design drafts and revisions, and feedback sessions. Our current partner on the Community Plaza project, Paula Hewitt Amram of Open Road, is our collaborator on this design as well. A professional in the field who has collaborated on multiple renowned NYC parks and roofs, Paula has developed our detailed vision into a structurally sound design, a design aligned with the original engineering documents for our school building, provided by Bryan McGinn's office. The link to our conceptual design is found here Green Roof Project - Sketchup File. It is a digital 3D model that can be imported directly into AutoCad. Together with our partner Open Road, we will be happy to continue working with you on schematics, and then construction documents, throughout the scoping process. Thank you for your genuine enthusiasm for our schools, and for taking the time to consider the Green Roof Project. We look forward to hearing your feedback. Respectfully, Allison Gaines Pell Principal, The Urban Assembly Academy of Arts & Letters
Lena Barbera Interim Acting Principal, The Clinton Hill School/PS 20
Our Green Roof – a virtual walk-through
Upon opening the door and stepping out onto the Green Roof, you are immediately taken by a stunning view of a vibrant, spacious, and truly “living” world, a hidden dimension of a historic building, and an expansive space surrounded by the splendor of Fort Greene’s rich architecture and skyline. Your first view finds vivid multi-use courts, with playful ground murals painted during various community Saturdays. Behind the courts, sit a cluster of NYC’s classic chessboard e ating tables, situated in the left nook of the north wing, enveloped by raised gardens tended to by students during Science class. Walk right, and you find yourself in the middle of an amphitheater, reminiscent of those found in old city and suburban public parks, awaiting the eager voices of an elementary school play or a middle schooler’s first solo. As you begin your walk around the center structure to explore the south side of the roof, you first pass a handball court, with water fountains situated nearby, and then, adjacent, a miniature rock climbing wall for young adventure seekers, with rubber safety matting underneath. Then, as you turn the last corner, the south side of the Green Roof becomes visible - a spectacular expanse of green, the living grass field for sports, play, picnics, and reading circles. Encircling the field is a colorful track, with artful markers for quarter, half, and full miles. Beyond the field lays another table cluster surrounding a rubber fitness surface for aerobics, dance, stretching, or play by small children, affording all ages a safe and comfortable space for physical activities requiring floor contact and flexible support. To the left, lives a luminous greenhouse with solar panels, making daily use of the generous sunlight received on the building’s south end. Inside, plants at multiple stages flourish, under careful watch and care by various Science and Nutrition classes. Vegetables are even grown, and students are excitedly learning to incorporate them in surprisingly delicious recipes during an afterschool cooking apprenticeship. Outside of the greenhouse, there is a weather station and a birdhouse area nearby, and on any given day, groups of students record data, take pictures, and form hypotheses about tomorrow’s forecast, the setting sun, native birds, and when the new egg will hatch. And all of this, the entire Green Roof, is enveloped in a perimeter of lush “vertical gardens” crawling up the perimeter fence, surrounding the entire expanse in an upward urban jungle, just a few inches in depth, but creating a world of green – with blue sky above.
Elements included in our Green Roof
“GREEN” SPACES Greenhouse with solar panels, with seating for a full class (up to 32 students) Vertical gardens on multiple inner walls as well as entire perimeter of roof (crawling up perimeter chainlink fence) Weather station Composting bins Bird house area Trees
SPORTS AREAS Playing field Track surrounding playing field Rubber mats for aerobics, dance, and play Multi-purpose court (basketball half courts and volleyball) Handball wall Rock climbing wall with rubber matting below for safety
The Green Roof Project would be an incredible step in preserving the best possible use of a charming, historic 1951 school building, known and loved by the Fort Greene community for 60 years. Especially in this complicated moment of apprehension on one side, and hopeful excitement on the other, this project would symbolize a very real and concrete dedication to providing a space for two great schools to truly thrive. In addition, the Green Roof would be an organic outdoor extension to the current project you are already generously funding, the Community Plaza in our schoolyard.
PERFORMANCE/EVENT AREA Amphitheater stage
OTHER ELEMENTS 3 eating areas (with classic chess board tables) At least 2 water fountains, 1 on each side of the roof, with 1 near eating nook by roof entry door (each water fountain with two levels, one for adults, and a lower one for small children) Lighting for night use Storage sheds/containers for equipment storage Phone, connected to the school system so staff can call office, other classrooms, etc. (possibly inside the entry area before you step out onto roof) Trash cans (and trash removal plan)
Right: Students going “green” in the community garden we are beginning by the schoolyard. Above: Principals Allison Pell and Lena Barbera in center, with Paula Hewitt Amram of Open Road (collaborating on Community Plaza project) and students
Benefits of the Green Roof Project
The Green Roof Project provides: A TANGIBLE INVESTMENT IN THE SUCCESS OF BOTH SCHOOLS MORE SPACE An entire floor of additional space for two schools sharing an old building, and various alternative physical education spaces to supplement our current (and old) small gym. We are both deeply committed to fostering continued partnership between our schools, and facility upgrades to create a highly functioning campus is essential to the success of each of our schools, as well as the extent to which we can creatively collaborate. Cramped, old facilities make day-to-day functioning (and space sharing) much more challenging than is necessary, and an upgraded learning environment speaks volumes to children, and faculty alike. The Green Roof, designed to truly meet the needs of our schools, would allow kids to learn, and faculty to teach, with increased ease, focus, and possibly most importantly, inspiration. A CURRICULUM RICH FACILITY The Green Roof Project has many different areas – some devoted to specific activities, others open for a variety of uses – with all spaces inspiring active, experiential learning. Most obvious curriculum uses: Health & Fitness, Science (greenhouse, weather station, bird house area, and gardens – teaching students to think “green”) and the Performing Arts (amphitheater). Other areas serve as meeting and gathering areas for Humanities discussions, Advisory classes, book clubs, and afterschool groups. In addition, various areas serve as a beautiful and inspiring setting for large events including graduations and student performance showcases as well as smaller, but equally important events such as special faculty lunches, teacher meetings, and parent teacher conferences. MOMENTUM FOR CURRENT AND FUTURE COMMUNITY & CULTURAL COLLABORATIONS The Green Roof not only provides much needed performance, sport, and event spaces for our two schools, but it allows us to open our roof to creative community collaborations, with area arts organizations, sports leagues, and green organizations. This innovative space would propel our two schools’ joint mission to become a cultural focus point of Fort Greene, by having creative spaces for new and larger collaborations between our schools and the vibrant community around us. EFFICIENT LEVERAGING OF FUNDING ALREADY ALLOCATED FOR ROOF REPAIR Current roof is deteriorating, and needs major repairs within the next one or two years. With our proposed plan, some of this funding can be allocated to the Green Roof Project instead. EFFICIENT LEVERAGING OF PRIVATELY FUNDED ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN WORK BY OPEN ROAD
Right: Our students learning about plant varieties at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY FLOOR OF OUR BUILDING Ecological Benefits (from http://www.hydrotechusa.com/benefits.htm) Mitigates Urban Heat Island: Green Roofs cool and humidify the surrounding air creating a microclimate which has beneficial effects within the immediate area. Natural Habitat for Animals and Plants: Green Roofs create biodiversity, encouraging wildlife, such as birds, butterflies and insects, to remain within urban areas. Reduction of Dust and Smog Levels: Vegetation helps to filter out dust and smog particles. Nitrates and other aerosol contaminants are absorbed out of the air and rainfall and bound within the soil.
BUILDING BENEFITS AND COST EFFECTIVENESS (from http://www.hydrotechusa.com/benefits.htm) Storm Water Retention: A Green Roof can typically reduce storm water run-off by 50 to 90% and minimize the impact on existing sewer systems. Additional Thermal Resistance: Green Roofs can improve the thermal resistance of the roof assembly throughout the year, especially in summer months by helping to reduce cooling costs. Reduced Noise Levels: Typical extensive Green Roofs reduce reflective sound by up to 3 dB and improve sound insulation by up to 8 dB. Increased Life Expectancy of the Roof: Protects roof membrane from climatic extremes and physical abuse, thereby greatly increasing the life expectancy of the roof.
Shown here: Detail from our proposed Green Roof design, south end
Shown here: Details from our proposed Green Roof design, north end
Shown here: Detail from our proposed Green Roof design, center area, looking towards sound end
Current State of Related Facilities
Current cafeteria is too small, and this problem has been cited by parents and school leadership teams consistently over the years. Lunchtime is already a logistical challenge in schools, and the small size exacerbates the noise and challenges of getting many kids fed at once. The Green Roof would offer 3 alternative eating spaces, for both student groups and faculty groups.
Current gymnasium is considered a “half-size” gym, barely adequate for elementary schools and inadequate for middle school activities. (This size issue has been noted frequently on websites and literature as a “downside” of our schools.) Gym has no seating, other than 2 rows of single benches, and is barely utilized for school exhibitions and other events due to its small size, lack of seating, poor lighting, and overall dreary environment. Currently, ceiling is being repaired due to recent deterioration. The Green Roof would provide an enormous and much friendlier space to inspire health and fitness, and the vigor it requires!
Above: Current Gym with falling / deteriorating ceiling tiles, low lighting, and virtually no seating
Lower Roof & Cafeteria – proposal note
If welcomed, and as mentioned by us briefly in earlier discussions, we would also submit an extension of this proposal to include: Construction on the lower, smaller roof of the building to incorporate it into the Green Roof Project Construction inside of our building directly underneath that lower roof, removing a wall to expand the Cafeteria into the small vestibule beside it, allowing space for 4 or 5 circle tables for additional student eating. The cafeteria is utilized heavily every day and every day afterschool as well. A larger and improved space
would greatly enhance all lunchtimes, all snacktimes (for afterschool kids), and all afterschool programs and school and community events already utilizing the space.
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