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Packer Collegiate Institute
H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture

School ties forged in glass

© Whitney Cox

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Founded in 1845, Packer Collegiate Institute is one of the oldest educational institutions in New York City and claims the distinction of being the first school to offer higher education to young women. Today more than 900 students attend the school in pre-kindergarten through 12th grades. Packer occupies three buildings in the historic brownstone section of Brooklyn Heights. They include a Gothic Revival building dating to 1853, as well as St. Ann’s Church and its adjacent parish house, which the school acquired in 1969.

The architects developed a comprehensive master plan to maximize the use of Packer’s existing facilities and redefine the complex. The program consolidates the lower and upper schools into the main building and relocates the entire middle school to the church. It also provides common areas, improved facilities for the arts, laptop depots, expanded dining spaces, and seminar rooms. Packer's shared spaces, including arts and athletic areas on the main building's lower level, are reorganized, revitalized, and augmented.

The most impressive element of the project is Packer’s new middle school, which was inserted into the old church. The architects considered both the school’s academic needs as well as the need to retain the church's architectural character: specifically, the integrity and proportions of its grand, high side aisles. They chose to insert a freestanding three-story structure of glass and steel into the church's central aisle. The addition contains space for 18 classrooms and three common rooms. Its transparent nature allows students and faculty to experience elements of the original architecture as they walk through the new facility. Clerestory windows and “ghost mirrors” animate and reflect the life of the school, maximize daylight, and provide unexpected views. A glazed circulation space connects the addition to the existing school buildings, helping to unite the student body by providing informal spaces for socializing.

Formal name of Project:
Packer Collegiate Institute


Gross square footage:
68,000 sq. ft. renovation; 7,000 sq. ft. new construction

Total construction cost:
$17 million

Packer Collegiate Institute

H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture LLC
902 Broadway, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10010
T: 212.677.6030
F: 212.979.0535


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