The Building - What Is Behind the Design

Every project solves for something and a list is made of the need to haves and the nice to haves because not everything can always be accommodated...

The proposed New High School offers several state-of-the-art amenities that you can find listed on page 5 of the BOE’s information book on the project.  To accommodate all of these amenities, the proposed New High School is designed mainly as a 4-floor building with an open-air football/multi use field and track on the fourth floor, and a “classroom tower” that goes up to a fifth floor along Jefferson St.  The football field effectively occupies the same location on the site as it does currently.  The classroom tower takes the space that currently occupies east of the field with the rest of the programming, arts and sports amenities taking up the rest of the footprint on each floor.   
The proposed building takes a portion of Hudson County’s Columbus Park, specifically the area occupied by three public tennis courts and a basketball court.  The proposed building would convert a portion of this area to two, regulation sized tennis courts and access points for the building.  Additionally, an access passageway is created on both the north and south end of the site to accommodate access in and out of the parking garage, loading and deliveries, and trash removal.  On the fourth floor, the football field cantilevers slightly over the passageway on the north end.
Below are the footprints for each floor and a quick summary before each:
1st Floor – garage with 110 parking spots for teachers and staff (cuts parking costs for the district and frees up street parking for Hoboken residents); storm water retention; two covered, regulation-sized tennis courts that are freely accessible to public; and building entrances on both east and west sides.
2nd Floor -  access to the arts and sports areas which include a hockey rink, two basketball courts, a pool, two theaters, and the cafeteria;  the areas closest to Columbus Park are what the BOE are considering the “community amenities” accessible to the public and able to be cordoned off from the rest of the school for security purposes.
3rd Floor – this is the beginning of the classroom and science lab space; with the remainder of the floor being the upper area for each of the sports and theater spaces.
4th Floor – Open air, multi-sport field, track and bleachers for 1500; double-sided classroom wing.
5th Floor – double sided classroom wing.
Top Floor of classroom tower – solar panels and outdoor deck / seating area.
What were the design constraints of the building
Every project solves for something and a list is made of the need to haves and the nice to haves because not everything can always be accommodated.  I asked the architects whether the constraints were the rooftop field and the fact that classrooms have to have windows were the design constraints and they said yes.  That means the building was designed around these two necessary features.  Additionally, they said it was having the first floor be limited only to parking and water retention due to our flood ordinance – so the programming space had to be lifted.  And given the size of the Hockey rink, it looks like this was probably a design constraint / need to have amenity as well.
He also said that the football field in particular created the biggest challenge because it was such a large footprint to fill beneath it.  And because of the need for classrooms to have windows, the area seemingly was constrained to space that did not require windows.  This may partly explain why there are so many sports and theatre offerings.  Of note: these spaces occupy about 25% of each of the two main programming floors and all need weight bearing, column-free space which can be more expensive and less efficient to build.  It would be helpful to understand better the construction costs, and notable the cost of these spaces. 

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