The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School

New York, New York

The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School relocated to Governors Island in September 2010 and became one of the first non-military tenants since the transfer of the island to New York. Originally built as a barracks in 1940, the existing building was converted to school use through a complete renovation, including all MEP systems as well as ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$486.00FEATURED IN2013 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYMultipurpose Rooms construction. 

Situating a public high school on a remote island away from the existing infrastructure of New York City provides a pastoral setting with direct access to the harbor and a ferry ride instead of a subway to school.

The mission of the school is to integrate New York City’s unique maritime resources, culture and history into an enhanced and challenging high school curriculum. Along with the standard classrooms and administration spaces for the 435-seat school, the building includes marine science classrooms where students raise lobsters, oysters and tilapia. Marine technology shops provide areas for boat building.

With an entrance just off the main lobby, the multipurpose room is central to various student activities throughout the day. South-facing glass doors and windows are shaded gently by the trellis covering the brick walk bordering the garden. Lunch is served in the multipurpose room, and students enjoy a menu augmented by organic vegetables and tilapia they grew themselves. In keeping with Harbor School’s mission of environmental stewardship, a dishwasher—not the standard in city schools—was provided in the kitchen to minimize paper and plastic garbage. Two large composters are available outside for food and garden waste.

A nautically themed interiors palette flows from the lobby into the multipurpose room, celebrating the school’s emphasis on the opportunities for learning the local marine environment.

“Creating the Harbor School on Governors Island was both the ideal expression of Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to education and the marine environment, as well as an exciting opportunity to redesign a historic building for a unique marine-focused public high school.”--Murray Fisher, Co-Founder, Urban Assembly New York Harbor School/President, New York Harbor Foundation