Project File: Phased improvements

St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's School is an independent day school on Manhattan's Upper West Side that is housed in a 1968 “brutalist” nine-story building. When the head of school, Virginia Connor, was hired more than a decade ago, the school was under-attended and in need of physical improvements.

After raising enrollment and academic standards in the first five years, Connor commissioned the architect to develop a master plan of phased design interventions to the school.

The lobby was transformed from a circulation hub into a space for learning by incorporating educational components such as a digital announcement board, a tropical fish tank and a 6-foot-diameter world clock.

The basement level was renovated to consolidate locker rooms and create an indoor activities area. A perforated metal ceiling in the activities room accommodates mechanical and structural systems, and maximizes the limited ceiling height.

The renovated music room can be reoriented to allow for small theatrical performances and recitals with folding maple millwork wall panels that form a stage proscenium.

The fifth floor was renovated to create a modern library of 18,000 volumes and a computer center. Art studios were created on the seventh floor, along with a wood shop. A 1,200-square-foot multipurpose room was added on the roof.

The architect is Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects (New York City).

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