This 120-Year-Old Factory Turned Into A Beautiful School

Now this is reusing things at its finest. 

A brick building near the shore of the Harlem River in the southern part of Bronx, New York, has been renovated to become a new school. Known to old residents as the 20 Bruckner, it was once an ice factory and warehouse that primarily had business with beer brewers near Yankee Stadium. 

For 40 years, the once-profitable establishment had been abandoned– only occupied by a family of goats on the ground floor. Uber took advantage of the location and utilized it to place a humongous billboard advertising their services. But the days of being hollow and merely a shell are now over for this edifice. Dream, a 30-year-old nonprofit focused on educating underserved youth communities in East Harlem and the South Bronx, has taken control of 20 Bruckner and turned it into the Dream Charter School.

The newly-established institution is now home to 1,300 students in pre-K through 12th grade. The architects and designers really repurposed the location, breathing new life into its old, hallowed walls. The interior now features barrel-vaulted ceilings and exposed bricks and steel beams, which is reminiscent of the building’s past. However, they’ve elected to add modern classrooms, hallways, and gathering spaces. 

“The first time I saw it, it yelled run away,” shared Richard Berlin, Dream’s co-CEO. “It hadn’t been touched in 40 years at that point. There were holes on the floors, holes in the wall.” The building had neither electricity nor water, but plenty of goats. Architect David Adjaye and his firm, Adjaye Associates turned the old place into an innovative, modern school. 

He and his coworkers turned one of the building’s original function rooms into the Hall of Dreams, a light-drenched social space for students and faculty. “There was something really compelling to me about this space, from its double height to the exposed steel beams and red brick,” Adjaye writes via email. “The height allowed for a cathedral-like space, which fits with the idea of a school as a temple of knowledge, freedom of thought, and the uncapped potential of the students.”

Image credit: James Wang Images/Adjaye Associates

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