Saturday, Aug 24th

Last updateThu, 22 Aug 2019 8am

You are here: Home Content Arts and Entertainment The Heathcote School: Progressive Design for Now and Then
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop
Police Report: Bench Warrants Executed, Driver Charged with DWI after Olmsted Road Car Accident

Police Report: Bench Warrants Executed, Driver Charged with DWI after Olmsted Road Car Accident

Arrested: On Aug. 14, police picked up a defendant – Carlos H. Alvarez, 39, of M...

Severe Storms Knock Out Power to 1,200 Homes and Close Post Road

Severe Storms Knock Out Power to 1,200 Homes and Close Post Road

Severe storms late Monday afternoon August 19 knocked out power to almost one fi...

Chill Bucket Presents Reading of The Bridge in Scarsdale at St. James the Less

Chill Bucket Presents Reading of The Bridge in Scarsdale at St. James the Less

Chill Bucket Productions will present a staged reading of Robert Remington Wood’...

Health and Wellness: Should You Get the Shingles the Vaccine?

Health and Wellness: Should You Get the Shingles the Vaccine?

Anyone who has lived through an episode of shingles has a story and the stories ...

Who Wins? Who Should Win?

Who Wins? Who Should Win?

This is the opinion of site founder Joanne Wallenstein :
As a longtime resident an...

first
  
last
 
 
start
stop

The Heathcote School: Progressive Design for Now and Then

heathcoteretroIn the days before mid-century architecture became retro, it was considered modern. And when it was built in 1954, the Heathcote School in Scarsdale set the standard for modern school design. Last week, a busload of architects from the firm Perkins + Will, who designed the original school, came to tour this landmark.
Designed by Lawrence B. Perkins, the progressive layout included four pods or clusters, rather than perpendicular hallways lined with classrooms. Each pod included classrooms and a central meeting space that could be used for flexible learning. The exterior walls of the school were made with glass rather than brick to bring the outside inside.

PerkinsHagermanPurvisBrad Perkins, a Scarsdale resident who is the son of the architect and an architect himself, greeted the visitors and explained that the Heathcote School was the second innovative school that his father designed. The first was Crow Island, in Winnetka Illinois, another landmark school that coincidentally is the previous home of Scarsdale's new superintendent, Thomas Hagerman.

Built in 1941, Crow Island shares many features with Heathcote. crowisland1It too was designed by Lawrence B. Perkins – who worked with famed architect Eero Saarinen. Classrooms were grouped in three separate wings according to age and connected by a core of rooms for common use: the auditorium, library, gym, activities room, administration, and so forth. The grounds and play area extending from the classroom wings were also zoned according to age groups to allow for increased freedom and greater safety in play activities. The school won the American Institute of Architects' 25-Year Award, an award that had been given only once before, to the Rockefeller Center in New York City.

We had the pleasure of touring the Heathcote School with the architects, and here is what we learned from Joan Blumenfeld of Perkins + Will. The design of the Heathcote School was a departure from traditional school plans. Some of the design elements that were unique and forward-thinking at the time include:

  • Classrooms in pods, or clusters, to create smaller subgroups within the school, thus encouraging a greater sense of community for young children.
  • Central space in between classrooms that can be used for alternative learning spaces, or for group activities.
  • Flexible layouts in the classrooms, allowing the teachers to arrange the furniture differently for different learning activities
  • There are no traditional desks facing in a row facing the teacher, for teachers to teach down to the students. The plans encourage interactive learning, allowing for many different kinds of learning activities during the day.
  • The idea that learning occurs outside the classroom as well as inside, encouraging physical activity and the engagement with the outdoors. The large windows on all sides of the classrooms, the glass corridors, all make the outside inside relationship stronger.
  • Single loading all the corridors, or having them have glass on both sides, allows natural light into them along with views to the outside. There has been lots of research linking better learning outcomes when students have access to daylight and views.
  • Using the idea of creating a comfortable environment, such as having a fireplace and little "living room" in the library, so that children can learn in an informal atmosphere.
  • Centralizing the shared spaces, such as the auditorium and administration areas, so that they are equidistant from the classrooms. This also allows the classrooms to be at "dead ends" so that there is less traffic in the corridors.

heathcote2All of these features are emulated in school design today.

Some of the features of the school did not stand the test of time. The classrooms were designed for small groups, and there was less "stuff" in them when they were designed, so that they are now a bit cramped, and have inadequate storage space. The lighting and ventilation has been upgraded and the windows have been replaced with more energy efficient models. Technology has been added on, as there was little or none when the school was designed, but as a result it is not well integrated.

We wondered why the school has no cafeteria and were told that at the time Heathcote was built, there was no need for a cafeteria as mothers did not work and children went home for lunch.

Some Scarsdale residents might ask about the relationship between Perkins +Will, the firm that designed the Heathcote School and Perkins Eastman, the firm that designed the new commercial building at the Heathcote Five Corners. Perkins+Will was headed by Larry Perkins and Phil Will when they designed Heathcote School, built in 1953. By the 1980's they had retired and were succeeded by a number of other partners, among them Larry Perkins' son, Brad Perkins. Brad Perkins, along with Mary Jane Eastman, split off from Perkins+Will to form their own firm, eventually named Perkins Eastman, in 1981. The building on Palmer Avenue is by Brad Perkins, along with a local partner.

Good Work

SETTING

Around Town

SETTING

Severe Storms Knock Out Power to 1,200 Homes and Close Post Road

Severe Storms Knock Out Power to 1,200 Homes and Close Post Road

Severe storms late Monday afternoon August 19 knocked out power to almost one fifth of Scarsdale homes. Deputy Village Manager Robert Cole said that s...

Read More

Neighborhood News

SETTING

Scarsdale Swimmers Make Waves at the Counties

Scarsdale Swimmers Make Waves at the Counties

13 and Under Girls Relay Team: (From left) Devin Topkara, Sophie Schwend (Front) Serena Wu and Caroline Largen. Scarsdale swimmers were among the hundr...

Read More

On Our Minds

SETTING

Who Wins? Who Should Win?

Who Wins? Who Should Win?

This is the opinion of site founder Joanne Wallenstein :
As a longtime resident and chronicler of the community I’ve seen many proposals for new facilit...

Read More

On Our Radar

SETTING

Parenting

SETTING

Back to School Guide 2019: For Kids and Grown-ups Too

Back to School Guide 2019: For Kids and Grown-ups Too

Though the streets of the village are quiet and empty this week, in just a few days families will start returning from vacation, sports practices will...

Read More

Village Voices

SETTING

Buy Your Tickets Today for Scarsdale's First Music Festival

Buy Your Tickets Today for Scarsdale's First Music Festival

The Scarsdale Business Alliance has announced the full program of events for the first Scarchella Music Festival in Scarsdale Village from 12-6 pm in ...

Read More

Shout it Out

SETTING

Chill Bucket Presents Reading of The Bridge in Scarsdale at St. James the Less

Chill Bucket Presents Reading of The Bridge in Scarsdale at St. James the Less

Chill Bucket Productions will present a staged reading of Robert Remington Wood’s The Bridge in Scarsdale, an unpublished play, which was produced Off...

Read More

School News

SETTING

SHS Track Closed for Repairs for Two Weeks

SHS Track Closed for Repairs for Two Weeks


If you smell hot tar wafting down Wayside Lane, here's why. The Scarsdale High School Butler Track and Field will be closed for approximately two week...

Read More

Schools

SETTING

The Goods

SETTING

Health and Wellness: Should You Get the Shingles the Vaccine?

Health and Wellness: Should You Get the Shingles the Vaccine?

Anyone who has lived through an episode of shingles has a story and the stories are all similar. Victims of the nasty virus bemoan the extended length...

Read More

Real Estate

SETTING

Summer Home Sales

Summer Home Sales

With just a few weeks left until the start of school, many new families are moving in. This week's sales include many homes valued between $1 and $2 m...

Read More

Today's News

SETTING

Police Report: Bench Warrants Executed, Driver Charged with DWI after Olmsted Road Car Accident

Police Report: Bench Warrants Executed, Driver Charged with DWI after Olmsted Road Car Accident

Arrested: On Aug. 14, police picked up a defendant – Carlos H. Alvarez, 39, of Mamaroneck – from Westchester County Jail to execute two bench warrants...

Read More

Arts and Entertainment

SETTING

Summertime Dining in Scarsdale

Summertime Dining in Scarsdale

Cooked and Co.

From super casual to more formal, Scarsdale’s summertime dining scene offers many choices. Here are just a few of the many options.

Scars...

Read More

People

SETTING

Police Arrest Plastic Surgeon with Large Cache of Weapons and Ammunition

Police Arrest Plastic Surgeon with Large Cache of Weapons and Ammunition

Westchester County District Attorney and Police Chief with Bonnano's weapons A 47 year-old plastic surgeon was arrested at Growler’s Beer Bistro in Tuc...

Read More

first
  
last
 
 
start
stop

Programs for Scarsdale Kids