YIMBY has the reveal for another project by Dattner Architects this morning, this one in Jamaica, Queens, for a 53,000 square-foot addition to PS 50Q. The existing pre-war building will be enhanced by the contemporary addition, which “complements the existing structure, wrapping it with new classrooms, a library, a cafeteria, and new gymnasium.”
Given the importance of education to society as a whole, modernizing the city’s existing schools is crucial if young New Yorkers are going to be competitive in today’s global economy, and good design can help create environments that are better-suited to learning. Instead of leaving schoolchildren with outdated facilities, building structures that meet the needs of the city’s best and brightest should be encouraged throughout all five boroughs.
Unfortunately, New York’s political leadership is often short-sighted, and compromises that can benefit communities and children alike are often neglected due to partisan politics, and short-sighted vision. Gale Brewer — who became borough president of Manhattan last year — actually killed the prospects for two new schools on the Upper West Side due to these issues.
Sacrificing the future of children because new buildings would have “[compromised] light and air for the neighborhood” is insane, especially when the cost-benefit would have improved the tax base which actually funds schools, while also resulting in brand-new and state-of-the-art facilities. Ignoring potential and letting a select few NIMBYs ride roughshod over an issue that is of crucial importance to all New Yorkers is unacceptable.
Given the opposition to replacing outdated and unattractive facilities with modern classrooms that adequately meet the needs of today’s youth, NIMBY politics are clearly out of control. Luckily PS 50Q’s parents are sane, and a vocal group of “library users” have not derailed the future of Jamaica’s youth based on petty partisan politics and personal greed.
Encouraging the revitalization of schools across the city, and incorporating plans for additional development — which would also help alleviate the housing shortage — would be most beneficial. PS 50Q falls short of this potential, but is nevertheless a step in the right direction.
Completion is expected in 2016.
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