RCSD Flower City School No. 54 Reaches Peak Bloom
The Rochester Joint School Construction Board hired LaBella Associates to provide architectural and engineering services for renovations at Rochester City School District Flower City School No. 54. The original building was constructed in the mid-60's and had not received a comprehensive renovation in its lifetime. Select improvements were completed in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2010s, but little attention had been given to the majority of the building. In particular, classroom spaces were uninspiring and dark, suffering from degraded asbestos flooring, leaking curtain walls and outdated, inaccessible toilet rooms. Corridors throughout the school were equally dated with consistent yellow wall tile and green terrazzo flooring throughout; wayfinding in the building was complicated by the constant color scheme. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing facilities throughout the building were extremely dated, with the original 1960s boilers still in use. Additionally, the exterior of the building exhibited masonry and roofing deterioration, the existing playground equipment had exceeded its useful life, a mobile classroom blocked visibility to the main entrance, and site logistics such as parking and student drop-off suffered from a lack of on-site amenities.
LaBella approached this project from all angles, knowing that nearly all of the existing components of the building and surrounding site would require replacement and redesign. Working closely with our in-house engineers and consultants for civil, landscape, structural and interior design, our project team developed a comprehensive renovation project that addressed all the needs of the building. Our design greatly updated the building infrastructure, enhancing the quality of the interior spaces, improved the exterior appearance and safety, and expanded the site playground, parking and bus drop-off areas.
At the interior, classrooms, corridors and office spaces were completely redesigned with new, vibrant finishes, furniture and technology. A new library was built and offers an inspiring, flexible environment for various types of learning; a new art room provides creative working space enhanced by natural light; and the gym received new finishes, windows, wall pads and basketball equipment. All existing toilet rooms were made accessible, and new accessible toilet rooms were added to meet the needs of the younger student population. Significant amounts of hazardous materials were also removed from the building, thereby creating a safer, cleaner learning and working environment for staff and students.
Exterior curtain wall window systems were replaced around the entire building perimeter and afford each classroom with a significant amount of natural light. Exterior infrastructure was upgraded through the restoration of the entire roof area, including the installation of a new boiler room structural roof deck. Replacement and repair of significant areas of masonry bolster the integrity and longevity of the exterior envelope. Heavy gauge security film was installed on all exterior windows near grade level to reduce the potential for unauthorized access into the building.
The school site was improved with the addition of an on-site bus drop-off / pick-up loop at the main entrance, thereby preventing the need for buses to que in the streets. A large parking lot was also added to the front of the building, enhancing accessibility and further marking the main entrance to the building. New landscaping, decorative fencing and concrete sidewalk designs further enhanced the site appearance and function. Two new playgrounds with rubber surfacing were installed at the rear of the building, each serving a specific age range, and offering accessible, safe play equipment for students.
Overall this project presented many challenges throughout design and construction; working within the constraints of the building size and original construction elements was difficult. Despite these challenges, the design team executed the project on time, on budget, and most importantly, delivered a school very well suited to meet the needs of current Rochester City School District Students, as well as those of the next generation.