The city is in the middle of a school construction boom in response to years of overcrowding, but now the architects have to adhere to the city's new environmentally-friendly standards. NY1's Elizabeth Kaledin filed the following report.
Building new schools could be one of the city's toughest challenges. There's great need, not enough space, and of course these days not enough money. Yet 22 brand new schools will open up in September.
Sharon Greenberger, the president of the School Construction Authority, says designing schools, building them and deciding where to put them is a challenge.
"We try to identify sites that are large enough to accommodate a school, that pass environmental due diligence, that are accessible and are clearly in an area where there's need," says Greenberger.
Once a site is chosen, design teams come in. The architecture firm SBLM in Manhattan has 25 people working on school design alone. The firm has designed dozens of new city schools, and considers them to be big business and a unique art form.
"The environment of a classroom is very important. High windows and letting in lots of daylight has been proven to help in the education process," says Ed Bredow of SBLM.
Modern schools tend to be light and airy, green chalkboards have all been replaced by white smart boards and computers are now an integral part of any new design.
"What's fundamentally different with the new schools being built today versus the schools built 30 years ago is the technology," says Josh Burdick of SBLM.
On top of that, all new city schools are now required to meet a long list of "green" guidelines to be water, space and energy-efficient. Some even have new light fixtures that turn off automatically and greenery on the roofs.
The School Construction Authority says it can take a full year to design a new school and sometimes even longer to build it.
What happens when it opens is most important:
"If a teacher inspires the kids with curiosity, then the architecture will just assist that," says Burdick.
So despite the modern design, good teaching will always be the best foundation for any new school.