Field Trip Friday: PS 90

A few weeks ago, OHNY staff met architect Mark Ginsberg of Curtis + Ginsberg up in Harlem to tour PS 90, a 1906 Gothic style elementary school restored into a residential condominium. The tour also included a sneak peek of the National Dance Institute‘s 18,000 square foot Center for Learning and The Arts in the same building. NDI is a non-profit that provides free dance instruction to 40,000 NYC public schools students every year, and will finally have a studio space of its own.

NDI space under construction

Constructed in 1906, PS 90 was designed by Charles B. J. Snyder, superintendent and chief architect for New York City public schools from 1891-1922. It features his “H” plan layout and is one of several similarly planned schools in Harlem designed by Snyder. During his time there, he oversaw the construction of more than 400 public schools and 300 of them are still in use today. PS 90 was abandoned as a school building thirty years ago.

exterior of PS 90

PS 90 is a great example of collegiate Gothic-style architecture, with elaborate masonry work on its terracotta and limestone exterior, and stone gargoyles and eagle carvings (all re-pointed and restored). On the exterior, the main entrance was lowered one level to allow for better accessibility and allow for a beautifully landscaped courtyard garden and double-height lobby space.

lobby of the building

Mark, the project’s reconstruction architect, explained that while the exterior was in good shape and intact, the building’s interior structure was compromised by neglect. Much of it was damaged beyond repair, like the concrete floors which had to be torn out and replaced. The original stairways were removed and stairwells relocated in order to apply to today’s codes.

Mark Ginsburg shows us the apartments

The building features a mix of studio, one, two and three-bedroom homes and each unit features high ceilings, up to 12 feet, which allows for great views and wonderful light. The floors are a herringbone pattern made of European oak with Quartzite counter tops and custom walnut toned cabinetry.

apartment kitchen

One thing that really stands out about PS 90 is the pricing. Out of the building’s 74 units, 20 will be middle-income, which helps market the affordable apartments. The remaining 54 market-rate units include three studios, 18 one-bedrooms, 32 two-bedrooms and one three-bedroom.

roof garden

The drought-resistant gardens are designed by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and the rooftop garden provides a beautiful oasis. The building utilizes sustainable features such as natural lighting and energy-efficient heat pumps.

living room

The large windows are also worth noting, as the building was designed before the widespread use of electrical lighting. These windows made the apartment layouts and placement of walls a bit tougher, but also add a sense of airiness and allow for the taller ceilings as well.

residents lounge

The building also features amenities, which we have seen in several new developments now, including a fitness center, terrace, residents lounge, work studio, media room and bike room.

Opened in August of last year, as of December 2010, West 147th Associates LLC and Halstead Property Development Marketing announced that 50% of units are sold. PS 90 is a great example of reuse and with incentives still available for developing abandoned Harlem properties as condominiums, hopefully there is more to come.

We are also excited to have PS 90 and NDI join us as OHNY Weekend sites for 2011!

PS 90
220 West 148th Street, New York (between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevards)


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