This building in East Harlem is both a colorful architectural surprise in Harlem and a feel-good story. The Reece School was founded in 1948 for special needs children by Ellen S. Reece, who housed the school in her brownstone on East 93rd Street, off Third Avenue for almost sixty years. As the school outgrew Ms Reece’s townhouse, they began planning to build a new, high-tech facility to be located at 25 East 104th Street.
The architectural firm Platt Byard Dovell White completed new facility in 2006. It is filled with light, and has an exterior wall of colorful rectangular transparent windows that bring sunlight and color into each classroom.
The building houses twelve classrooms, eight quiet rooms and several special-use classrooms used for art and music rooms. It has a multi-purpose gym and a student library. It also has three occupational therapy rooms, three speech therapy rooms and offices for school psychologists and counselors. In addition, it has an outdoor recreational terrace. The school is one block from Central Park, the Museum of the City of New York, and El Museo del Barrio to its west, and the Carver public housing projects on Madison Avenue to its east.
The building received an American Architecture Award from the Chicago Althenaeum and a Design Award from the New York State AIA in 2008, as well as a K-12 Educational Facilities Design Award from the Boston Society of Architects/AIA in 2007. From the rest of us, it gets a definite ‘thumbs-up’. It’s a real head-turner for those that happen by.
Reece School is one of the oldest non-profit special education elementary schools in the City. It was chartered by the State of New York in 1955 and continues to serve children ages 5-13.
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