02 November 2011

The Beauty of Schools


Lately, I've been touring some of Brooklyn's middle schools as I search for the right institution for my son, who will enter 6th grade next year. This has give me the rewarding opportunity to obverse their warm and handsome architecture. Most of the buildings we've visited were built at a time when schools were considered temples of community as important as churches and civic building, and given accordingly grand designs. No anonymous pile of bricks, these. The ceilings are high, the windows tall and plentiful, and there is an attention to detail everywhere.

These pictures are from M.S. 443 in the South Slope. There was a time when doorknobs of the sort seen above where common in New York government buildings, libraries and schools. I spied this lone survivor.




Most of the classrooms have a row of elevated windows like these near the ceiling. This allows the room to be flooded with light, and provides a connection between each room and the outer corridor. It's also damn good-looking.


The detail found on the railing of this wrought iron back staircase is entirely unnecessary, and thus all the more wonderful. It transforms a potentially ugly corner of the school into something beautiful.


Most classrooms are equipped with roomy closets such as this. Some protrude into the room, others are built into the wall. Some have regular doors, others sliding doors. All are sturdy as hell.


Why should a public school have a pane of stained glass near the entrance. Why not? That's why.

4 comments:

Mitch said...

Are those doorknobs gone? When I went to school in the 60-70s they were all over the place.

I think it's appropriate to mention this post on Scouting NY:

NYC Public School Using Houdini-Style Locks

http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=3893

Ryan G said...

I've seen those doorknobs at JHS22 on Columbia Street in the Lower East Side. The school was once a primary school, I believe.

I once moonlighted as a referee for an intramural co-ed sports league to make a few bucks, and the games were (and still are) held at various public schools citywide. A joy was, as Brooks points out, seeing the grand architecture of these buildings. One that stands out is Washington Irving High School on Irving Place.

Trixie said...

I have a pair of those, in aluminum. I didn't steal them from my school, but I can't remember now where I bought them. Maybe at my store, Live Shop Die, back in the day. I've had them for many years now and I love them.

Cathy of Top Beauty Secrets said...

Nice blog! :)