Located in a busy commercial neighborhood, this trade school had previously been a warehouse and manufacturing space. My client purchased the building many years ago and was now ready to build a large extension in front of the structure. The goal was to design the addition to make the structure look less like a warehouse and more like a school. The trade school was of more value to the community than a warehouse. We wanted to transform the structure to reflect its true value and purpose in the community

My client wanted a parking garage and machine shops with natural lighting that flowed naturally from the existing building. To accomplish this, we altered the original building and designed the addition to accommodate the need for these additional classrooms, offices, parking garage, and auditorium. The new space has access from the existing classrooms and can serve as a multi-functional area. The windows and skylights allow for natural light and air into the space. There are great views of the local neighborhood from the school so we created lots of windows on the second floor.

We used BIM to create a model of what the school would look like from the beginning. This meant the client was able to visualize everything in detail. Since they are construction tradespeople, they actually helped create the design. We provided zoning analysis, construction cost estimating and conceptual design services for the feasibility study. City Planning reviewed the plans and found that the zoning envelope had to have a 100-foot setback on Jamaica Avenue because of zoning changes past that point that would make the building’s use non-complying and non-conforming. This addition exemplifies what can be done with a very small footprint and building over an existing parking area.

I gave the client two different alternatives. They preferred the design with the parking on the roof because it allowed the two spaces to be on the same level. Also, roof parking is exempt from zoning floor area requirements.

The clients are very happy with the way the design came out. They feel that it fits in very nicely with the community. The value of this new addition to the community will be appreciable; expansion of the trade school will make a difference. The construction estimate was kept low because they want to do most of the work themselves. While money is not available to build the addition now, they are hoping to go ahead with the project in the future.

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