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Cooke School

2022 Vanceva World of Color Awards - Honorable Mention

The architecture of the new Cooke School is an uplifting design that elevates the experience of the special needs students who call it home. Located in East Harlem, the site is surrounded by four public housing apartment buildings. Although much smaller than the surrounding towers, the school reads prominently along the street wall, in contrast to the adjacent towers that are set back from the sidewalk. Architecturally, with abundant glazing and colored glass, the school is a bright and vibrant addition to the neighborhood. Channel glass lining the first floor illuminates the sidewalk during the evenings while providing privacy to the interior spaces. Evocative bay windows break down the long façade into a more human scale. They were sculpted in multiple directions to create visual interest and movement across the façade. Color playfully articulates each classroom and joyfully enlivens the front and back facades. Colored slot windows are integrated into the façade at each classroom. These vary by room and enable the students to identify their classroom from the street below. As sunlight passes through these windows over the course of the day, colored shadows move across the floor, offering teaching opportunities about time and earth science. In the evening, the colorful façade creates a distinct and joyful presence in the neighborhood, and the school glows like a gem along Madison Avenue. Classrooms are bright and cheerful spaces. Each classroom has its own unique color combination of floors, walls, and glass, which aids in room identification and establishes a sense of ownership by the students. Color is strategically balanced with neutrals in each room to create a bold impact without overwhelming. The design of the classrooms was standardized, including layout, materials, and millwork, to create an efficiency for cost and construction. Color was used as an inexpensive way to individualize each classroom.

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