new vista
architectural projects

Harlem Village Academy High School
East Harlem, NY 2003-Present
Cooper Robertson Partners / Architects of Record

Cited by New York Mayor Bloomberg as “a poster child for this country’s schools,” and President Obama as a “model” for his national education agenda, Harlem Village Academies (HVA) is a highly successful network of college preparatory charter middle and high schools located in East Harlem, New York. New Vista has consulted on numerous projects with HVA, ranging from the creation of fundraising materials and feasibility studies for potential building sites, to hiring architects, developing the architectural program, and monitoring all phases of design for HVA’s new flagship high school building.

Slated to begin construction in April 2010, the five-story, 52,000 sq. ft. infill building will straddle East Harlem’s 124th and 125th streets, and boast a classical brick façade that is both contextual and collegiate.

Designed to house 400 students in grades 9-12, every aspect of the school is intended to promote thoughtful teaching and learning. Grade-level community neighborhoods are organized by floor, each with their own collection of classrooms, “Harkness” seminar rooms, and a centrally located gathering and study area. HVA Network Offices will be located on the 4th floor of the building, along with a Teacher Training Center to accommodate the ongoing professional development that is central to the school’s success. A street-level Art Gallery on 125th street will house community events and public exhibitions of student work. A rooftop garden will serve as a study area for the natural sciences and an outdoor learning area for students and teachers.

The HVA curriculum combines intensive academic coursework with a longer school day and individual student tutoring as needed. Teachers collaborate in department teams to look at student work together, co-plan lessons, analyze assessment data, share best practices and refine instructional strategies. Teacher talent is developed through instructional coaching, data-driven feedback, and the opportunity for peer observation.

Innovative building features include:
• Street-level public Art Gallery
• Street-level commercial rental space
• Multi-purpose Fitness and Commons room
• Highly flexible Media/Library and study area
• Grade level gathering, study, and conference areas
• Small group seminar Harkness Rooms
• State-of-the-art “Gymnatorium”
• Network Offices and Teacher Training spaces
• Roof-top Botanical Garden

Harlem Village Academy has attracted statewide and national attention for its stunning academic success. In a district where roughly 30% of 8th grade students achieve a passing score on statewide math assessments, HVA, which admits its students through a blind lottery, made history as the first eighth grade class ever in the history of Harlem to achieve 100% passing on the state math test. HVA students have achieved the highest math scores of any public school in New York state for three consecutive years.

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