Exemplify sustainability and bring many benefits to residents, communities and the environment

Working under the New York City School Construction Authority’s fast-track 3K Capacity Program, Circular created a new preschool for the community by taking over a partially constructed commercial building and quickly revising the design to incorporate high performance infrastructure, facades, and nurturing learning spaces.

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Exterior view
Photo credit: Frank Oudeman

Through a commitment to high performance sustainability rooted in Passive House principles, the adaptive reuse project significantly reduces energy consumption and embodied carbon, thereby lessening its environmental impact, lowering operational costs, and quickly providing badly needed pre-school seats to a rapidly growing neighborhood.

Program & Site

Seven classrooms on two floors are supported by a medical room, general office, staff room, and parent’s lounge. The upper floor is home to a bright and cheerful padded playroom, while the cellar contains the school’s kitchen, technical, and utility spaces. Corona 3K is located in Corona, Queens, one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in New York City, with more than 30% of its residents under 18 years old. As an under-served area with a large population of newly arrived families, quality public childcare is in high demand.

Approach

In order to reduce waste and meet an aggressive time schedule, the adaptive reuse of the partially completed building preserved the vast majority of the structure and infill materials already in place. Circular reworked the design for the under-construction spec building to develop an updated exterior, core, and interior layouts to meet stringent school standards and enhanced energy performance targets.

Design

The building’s colorful exteriors stand out as a beacon within the surrounding streetscape to attract local parents and children to the services offered within. Playful custom geometric wall tiles and an illuminated oculus overhead anchor the lobby’s welcome desk and set the stage for the school’s color-coded corridors and classrooms. Recessed tile bands become a continuous strip of tackboards, creating linear galleries showcasing student artworks in the hallways. Each classroom is identifiable by a signature color used for doors, frames, accent floor tiles, millwork, and interior elements, echoing the building’s polychromic exterior palette.

Performance

Circular achieved considerable enhancements to sustainability and comfort in this project by incorporating Passive House principles in design and construction. Passive House is a set of design strategies and efficiency standards that strictly regulate the amount of energy a building can use, and when implemented correctly, guarantees a very high level of comfort for the people inside.

Achievements

This educational project has brought about transformative change, with far-reaching impacts for the neighborhood. Not only does the facility alleviate strain on existing school infrastructure, but also becomes a symbol of enhanced opportunity for the local population. Circular’s design focused on providing a warm and uplifting atmosphere for children, parents, and staff at the 3K center, and the project stands as a cheerful, welcoming addition to a dynamic and growing neighborhood.

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Aerial view - building
Photo credit: Circular

About Circular

Circular is an award-winning multidisciplinary practice combining sustainable architecture, interiors, and experience design. Founded in 1999 as Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture (JPDA), the firm has been at the forefront of research and design into innovative typologies for high performance Passive House and other sustainable buildings for over 25 years. Circular designs with empathy and integrity to create solutions that make the world a better place to live, capturing value for clients, society, and the environment.