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A Tale of Four Schools — Program Thursday

School has started and we are eagerly anticipating our fascinating program this Thursday evening organized with The Loisaida Center Inc. at their 710 East 9th Street location near Avenue C.  The program is about one of the foremost architects of school buildings from the turn of the last century, and will include presentations about how his work featured in their four different communities throughout our city, and how those buildings were transformed over time, and what they say about preservation and community planning in today’s New York City.

CBJ Snyder
CBJ Snyder and one of his famous “H”-plan schools.


Architect CBJ Snyder was a prolific designer of New York public school buildings, completing more than 350 schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A graduate of Cooper Union, Snyder had big ideas about design, believing that public school buildings should be civic monuments to a better, brighter future.

Snyder’s innovative buildings included progressive solutions for light, air, fireproofing, and classroom size. Built more than a hundred years ago, they raise the question of how can we better care for great community resources such as these and facilitate their adaptive reuse, and what can we still learn from Snyder’s century-old philosophies?

PS 64, the site of Charas, as it stands today.
PS 64, the site of Charas, as it stands today.

Professor Jean Arrington, who has researched Snyder’s work and legacy in New York, will share her insights.  Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council, will moderate a discussion with stakeholders of four Snyder projects: PS 31, a demolished Bronx landmark; two former Harlem schools (PS 109 at 215 East 99th and PS 186 at 521 West 145th) aiming to serve as community anchors; and the old PS 64, an East 9th Street building with an uncertain future.  Here is a good background piece in the Village Voice from ten years ago.

The program is organized with the Loisaida Inc. Center, and co-sponsored by the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, East Village Community Coalition, and Historic Districts Council.

Presenters include:

  • Chino Garcia who helped found the Charas el Bohio community center in 1977 in the old PS 64 building, and Libertad Guerra, Acting Director and the Chief Curator of Loisaida Inc.  They will discuss the importance of the project to the Latino and community and the broader East Village/Lower East Side neighborhood.  Read Libertad’s piece  from Lower East Side History Month on on the legacy of Chino Garcia, one of the founders of CHARAS, whose work laid the ground for a new type of institutional cultural space.

    Libertad Guerra and Chino Garcia, from: http://leshistorymonth.org/
    Libertad Guerra and Chino Garcia, from: http://leshistorymonth.org/
  • Edwin Torres, who will present slides of the landmarked PS 31 before it was demolished.  You can see some of his other work on Instagram.
Inside PS 31 before it was demlished. ©Edwin J Torres / http://www.edwintorrespf.com
Inside PS 31 before it was demolished, auditorium. ©Edwin J Torres / http://www.edwintorrespf.com
  • Representatives of Dattner Architects and Monadnock Developers will discuss the transformation of PS 186 in West Harlem into 79 apartments serving families of different incomes, and the new home of the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem.

    PS 186 Class of 1942 with artist Faith Ringgold. From http://ps186living.com/history/
    PS 186 Class of 1942 with artist Faith Ringgold. From http://ps186living.com/history/
  • Residents of PS 109 El Barrio Artspace, which is 89 units of affordable live/work housing for artists and their families and 10,000 square feet of complementary space for arts organizations.

     Photo by El Barrio’s Artspace.
    Photo by El Barrio’s Artspace

Space is limited so RSVP here today.

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