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The Brearley School
Photography by Nic Lehoux
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
Wood Ceilings9Wood
Stainless Steel mesh enclosure at PlaydeckCarl Stahl Architecture
Auditorium Adjustable floor lift systemGala Systems Inc.
Gymnasium GlazingSolera

Product Spec Sheet
Wood Ceilings
by Mosa
Stainless Steel mesh enclosure at Playdeck
Auditorium Adjustable floor lift system
Gymnasium Glazing
by Solera

The Brearley School

KPMB Architects as Architects

This K-12 private school building contains the Lower School, Library, Music, Phys-ed and Science Departments

The Brearley School, founded in 1884, is a prestigious k-12 school located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Since 1929 the school has resided in a single building that they purpose built. The school has grown over the years and approached KPMB to expand the facility by adding a second academic building to the campus and to renovate the existing facility so it is consistent with the new building.


As is typical in Manhattan the site has a small footprint, measuring only 100’x75’ which requires the multi-disciplined building to be a series of stacked element of dissimilar character. The project includes Science labs stacked on a regulation Gymnasium stack on an Auditorium, Stacked on a “school house” stacked on Common room and Library. The resulting building could have been an incoherent Jenga tower however there was a strong desire to unify the elements into a coherent volume with more subtle expression of the program through fenestration scale and density.


There is strong academic focus at Brearley, to respect and reflect this the project has been design from the inside out (Programmatic needs) and then from the outside in (look and feel). The resulting facility is academically dynamic but held together architecturally with a masonry wrapper that unifies these disparate program elements while addressing the character of the local neighborhood. Though it also stands out from its neighbors though the use of a more refined Roman format iron spot brick, which is a longer, more slender brick with the character of the iron spot providing added texture. The unified form of the building is also a response to the culture of the school and their desire to “not be just another all-glass-building”. Given the current state of the planet’s environment this does not just reflect the school’s wishes but is also relevant to energy improvements required of future buildings.


Other sustainable features were incorporate based on detailed analysis of the site. This includes locating windows based on solar insolence studies to maximize daylighting autonomy of classrooms while limiting excessive solar gains; there are more windows where the solar gains are limited and less windows (for program that doesn’t want windows such as the Auditorium) where solar gains would be problematic. There are classrooms that achieve as high as 90% daylight autonomy. At the gymnasium the access and control of light is a more delicate balance and therefore Solera diffusing glass is utilized to better light the space while controlling unwanted glares that would be disturbing to users of the gym.


A study of the local climate identified the ability to include engineered natural ventilation strategy that allows air and cooling to be supplied during portions of the year without the mechanical system conditioning the air. Added to this is that the students are involved in the process of engaging the natural ventilation system, which was desired to be part of the educational experience rather than being automated and not apparent to the students. In addition, further integration of the building with the education of the students is executed on the roof terrace where the green roof is set up as an experimental garden for science students complete with access to storm water collection from the run-off of higher roofs for use in this garden.


The Auditorium is a gathering space for music and events of the Brearley School community. The room is adaptable with an expandable stage and a flexible floor that converts from a raked floor for improved site lines to a flat floor for school events allowing a wider range of activities to be accommodate well in single space. There are 4 independent floor platforms that automatically move up and down based on the Gala Systems Spriralift technology. In addition the 9-wood wall and ceiling panels were an effective way not only enrich the space with the warmth of wood but to achieve the acoustic requirements of the space while at the same time concealing the technical theater equipment that is an important part of the academic theater program. There are 5 motorized rigging bars plus speakers, AV screen and projector seamlessly integrated into the wood ceiling.


Material Used :

1. Yankee Hill Masonry – Roman format Iron Spot Brick
2. 9 Wood – Wood Ceilings
3. Carl Stahl – Stainless Steel mesh enclosure at Playdeck
4. Gala Systems – Auditorium Adjustable floor lift system
5. Mosa Tile - Flooring
6. Oko Skin Concrete Panels – Upper Floor Cladding
7. Gala - Sprialift Adjustable Auditorium Floor System
8. Solera Glass – Gymnasium Glazing

The Brearley School

Entro as Consultants

Entro designed the signage and donor recognition program for The Brearley School, a prestigious K-12 all-girls school located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. After 85 years in its purpose-built premises at 610 East 83rd St., the student body and outgrown its original building.

In order to meet the needs of its students, the Brearley School set out to design a new 75,000 square foot, vertical campus building. Designed by KPMB Architects, the 12-storey expansion includes a flexible and multi-purpose learning landscape integrated into the lobby, state-of-the art labs, a large auditorium, a library, a common room and play space.


In addition, the building is designed as a LEED Gold teaching tool, allowing students to actively participate in sustainable features, including a green roof to be planted and maintained by the students.

Entro’s wayfinding program for the new building is designed to complement the existing building and consolidate the whole school with a unified look and feel. As there is very limited visitor access to the building, only a simple wayfinding strategy was required, with no need for directional or directory signage.


Instead, the focus was on consistent placement of signage and very clear level identification. To that end, the elevator cores had large outlined level identification. Stairwells had supersized playful numbers wrapping around the walls near the doorways.

Signage is minimalistic but elegant, utilizing the school’s traditional house red. The school’s colour also appears as an accent on sign edges and has a strong presence in the elevator core with bold red walls.

Two fonts from the school’s branding program - used for room identification and donor recognition signage respectively, along with the school crest, complete the brand presence.


Sightlines to the lobby wall made for a perfect opportunity to showcase the school’s crest, which was applied large-scale directly to the wall, creating a colourful, welcoming image that is visible from the outdoors. The Brearley seal is thought to have appeared in print for the first time on the cover of the school catalogue for 1890–1891, but has been redesigned since. The original design had to be maintained, but the detail enhanced enough for the imagery to be blown up to a 6’-6” diameter, and appear clear and detailed enough for people to view close-up.

Project Credits
Theatre and Theatre Acoustics
Climate Engineer
Code Consultants
Structural, Envelope
Products used in this project
AUS – Research, Technology & Innovation
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