Last month the long-awaited unveiling of PS 90 was revealed to the American Institute of Architects and the press. In addition to retaining the architectural integrity of this stunning building, the landscaping in the northern courtyard was a thoughtful touch that made a good first impression and adds to the aesthetics of an already elegant foyer.
Entering the oversized wrought iron gate makes you feel as if you have entered a lush, secluded woodland forest. The landscapers intentionally over-planted the area to make it more welcoming to potential homeowners. In a couple of years some of the greenery will need to be removed and likely will be offered to neighbors and community gardens
The Collegiate Gothic inspired former school-house has an attractive split level lobby. Both the lobby and original art installation were designed by Ron Norsworthy Interiors. The main entrance is actually just below street level, down a short flight of stairs that delivers you into the inviting courtyard. You can take an elevator or a glass encased staircase up to the first floor which then sweeps you onto the back terrace, and also branches out to the cavernous hallways that extend east and west. The units on the first level have private terraces that open out onto the community terrace. Although the south-facing terrace receives more light, the landscaping is not as inviting as the north entrance’s. This is a result of load limitations that restrict soil to a maximum of four inches. A choice of low shrubs and gravel were chosen instead of leafy green foliage and colorful flora.
The weight issue was also a concern when the architects decided to add a sixth floor to the century old brick and stone structure. For one thing, the roof had completely succumb to the forces of nature to the point that trees were growing out of building. For another, the roof was originally sloped. The team worked together to overcome these challenges which resulted in an additional floor that offers breathtaking views.
Credit is given to the original designer, Charles Snyder, the Superintendent and Chief Architect for New York City schools from 1891 to 1922. PS 90 is one of 11 H-Plan schools in Harlem designed by Snyder. “All of Snyder’s schools are built to last.” Many of his buildings have been saved by preservationists and converted into other uses. Part of the longevity of Snyder’s structures is the fact that he used steel framing, which allowed for fire proofing the buildings and also allowed for large windows. These oversized windows (some as high as 10 feet) give the units a unique character and offer an impressive amount of sunlight to the south-facing units.
The exterior of the building is a standard mix of limestone, terra-cotta and brick. Most of the original bricks have been preserved despite years of decay, and layers of colorful graffiti that once coated the limestone has been sandblasted off as much as possible.
The interior features 9-12 foot ceilings, herringbone pattern oak floors, and modern kitchens and bathrooms. The affordable units offer most of the same amenities as the luxury units, but the unit that we saw was dark, odd shaped, and had a light colored carpeting instead of wood floors.
While the immediate area surrounding the condos still lacks restaurants and other entertainment options, it is within walking distance of necessities like supermarkets, banks, parks, and mass transit. If a buyer is looking for a beautiful and elegant new home, PS 90 is a great choice. If they can’t live without the creature comforts of restaurants and shopping nearby then the trade off might not be worth it. Perhaps the continued growth of the area with projects like PS 90 will result in more neighborhood amenities cropping up in an area that could use a boost of revitalization.