Citizen Tribeca | PS 150 will open tomorrow in its new excavations

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PS 150, which for a few decades was integrated into Independence Plaza at Jay Street, will open tomorrow — the first day for public schools — in its shiny new space at 28-42 Trinity Place and Edgar Street. It is also now officially called the Trinity Place Learning Center.

The new facility, designed by Dattner Architects who completed the Sanitation Garage in Spring, the BPC Parks Conservancy facility and dozens of other city parks and schools, is vertical and spans eight stories. The student body will eventually double in size, but it will be gradual. This year they are adding a kindergarten and a 3K to their usual program, which is one class per level. Each year, class sizes will increase to two classes per class.

Laura Cohen, the school’s parent coordinator, was very generous in showing me around when it’s clear that everyone is getting ready there: staff were only allowed into the building on August 29. And everything had to be unpacked and put away: all the equipment and furniture are new, since they had double the order with this new building.

They will miss their plaza at the IPN (there are two outdoor spaces that are integrated into the building), but almost everything else is an upgrade: the school has for the first time a dining hall, an auditorium and a combined gym, a multipurpose room and dedicated spaces for the nurse, counsellors, therapists and library. They even have a staff room, a PTA room on the ground floor (all other offices are on 2) and the classrooms are large and have amenities like indoor bathrooms for younger kids and hand washing stations for art and science rooms. The technology also seems deceived.

“We’ve never had any of this before,” Laura said. “Every room we had was double duty.”

There will be some adjustments as a result – much like a family living in a railroad apartment and moving to a townhouse. “The whole environment is so different,” said Nico Victorino, the school’s principal who took over last year. “We were used to being in a small space, so there will be some growing pains.”

(Another exciting addition: Nico just welcomed his first child, a daughter, Lea, now 6 months old.)

The school opens with 200 children in this arrangement: a 3K class (the only one downtown in a real school); a pre-K; two kindergartens; and one class in all other grades. Each year, there will now be two kindergarten classes, so that the school will end up with a total enrollment of 400 to 450 and two to three classes per level.

The space is difficult to master, as it is eight stories tall and the entrance is still surrounded by scaffolding while the residential building above, 77 Greenwich, is completed. But the narrow floor plate allows for a central hallway and plenty of windows in each classroom, all with classic urban views. And three floors in the southern half of the school are in the historic Dickey Building, whose barrel-shaped rear wall provides a cool nook in these classrooms.

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