In 2011, Spence purchased the site at 412 East 90th Street. A primary challenge was to develop a collection of specific volumes and spaces—bound by regulation dimensions—into a highly restricted NYC zoning envelope. A distinct solution for accommodating all the required program onto the site is premised on locating the Squash Courts on two levels, in a staggered sectional configuration. This allowed for the upper level of the Squash courts to have a circulation zone which provides a balcony overlook of the lower level of Squash courts. This device permitted the nine Squash courts in the program to take up much less volume within the overall massing, compared to a simple vertical stacking of the courts. An advantage in creating a more compact building is that it encourages through the provision of open communicating stairs—active use of the building (i.e. the students are encouraged to use the open stairs, rather than use the elevator). Social spaces are clustered around the circulation to enable both scheduled and impromptu gatherings. The combined programs for athletics, movement, dance, drama, and ecology studies provide for an environment focused on health, wellness, learning, and competition—all designed to help young women grow and thrive.


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