In New York, space is always at a premium. So when faced with high demand for classrooms, the New York City Department of Education turned to an old rail yard—17 to 30 feet below grade—for additional space. Perkins Eastman designed the $137 million Mott Haven Campus to accommodate four distinct schools on the brownfield site, clustered around a shared 600-seat performing arts space and sports field. Each school (all of which have grades 9–12, and one of which also has K–4 students) has its own identity, with a separate color scheme, entry, classrooms, and dining facilities.
The jury lauded the campus for creating a sense of place for the students, especially in light of “all the issues that come up with being in that kind of densely compacted area,” said juror Ted Landsmark, who also noted that projects like the Mott Haven Campus can create incentive for public authorities to follow the example. “Urbanistically it does some good things,” juror Raymund Ryan said. “it creates a kind of haven inside with this shared space.”