Since 2014, the AIA NYS Excelsior Awards program has recognized civic projects for design excellence in publicly funded buildings. Envisioned as a platform to showcase collaborative efficiency between design teams and state agencies, the Excelsior Awards provide an archetype for state-funded building designs. Selected as an example of these principles, Dattner Architect’s recently completed Public School 50Q Addition (PS 50Q) received the AIA NYS Excelsior Honor Award for Excellence in Renovation & Addition.
In attendance at Monday’s Awards Ceremony in Albany, Dattner Architect’s Principal Daniel Heuberger and Project Manager Eric Epstein joined other New York State honorees to celebrate innovative and noteworthy publically funded architecture. AIA NYS and representatives from various New York State contracting agencies presented the team with the award, acknowledging the project for its harmonious design, functionality, and impact on the surrounding community.
Jurors continued to comment on the project’s neighborhood impact, stating that “[PS 50Q] provides a great sense of transparency and reinforces the importance of safety and care. The school ’feels safe’ with controlled transparency, natural surveillance, and friendliness. It humanizes security.”
A key design opportunity included rethinking the “front door” of the school and simplifying circulation by creating one new, and transparent, common entrance for all students that leads them, according to their grade, to different parts of the building. At the seam between new and old, the original façade is revealed in the entrance lobby and corridors so that the trace of the historic building is not lost inside the new wing.
Juror’s also noted that “[The school] doesn’t look like a public school; it looks like a college campus—generous, open.” The design team strategically intervened and thoughtfully reprogrammed to transform an existing building into a vital community resource. The school now provides refreshed and innovative learning spaces for over 900 students in Jamaica, Queens.
We were proud to be there amongst so many great publicly-funded architecture projects. Congrats to all the winners!