Central Queens Academy Charter School

  • area / size 83,000 sqft
  • Completed 2021
  • GLUCK+ designed the Central Queens Academy Charter School with ample space for creativity and play in Queens of New York City, New York.

    Central Queens Academy Charter School (CQA) is located in the heart of Elmhurst, NY within a mixed use building for grades K-8. The building includes a community health facility on its second floor as well as a residential tower located on the fifth through seventeen floors. The school’s three floors have a considerable amount of glass around the perimeter, with most of the interior not receiving natural light. Taking this into consideration, GLUCK+ expanded on the idea of grouping classrooms by grade into small “villages” and creating areas known as The Commons, capitalizing on what would have been the restraints of the floor plan to create something special. The school’s site is at the junction of multiple city grids in Queens, creating a crossing and gathering space for people of different cultural groups and multiple neighborhoods. The school is organized around these commons simulating the idea of bringing a sense of community within the school.

    The Entrance Commons is the greeting area before entering the main circulation path of the first floor. The administration office welcomes you into the school before arriving at the Central Commons. This is an open gathering space for informal learning built with a “grass like”turf carpet and a recessed ceiling painted blue resembling the sky. Built-in seating benches surround the area and includes a white wall for children to write on, draw, or project movies. The space is used for non-traditional learning activities where different grades and classrooms can come and gather. Down the hall is the Kindergarten Commons, a more private and secure area with enough space to seat 100 kindergarten students including a raised platform used as a playful stage. Further on around the circular path is a main hub, The Crossroads Commons, a dynamic space/intersection where there’s a mix of classrooms and grade levels with access to the gym and the upper floors. Upon completing the circle and returning to the front of the building, The Elementary Commons serves the younger students. This area is surrounded by large windows with views of the street and seating along the walls.

    Each common area uses the color green for the floor in varied shapes. Pops of the school’s color orange are seen throughout the hallways and classrooms. Blue is also used to reflect a sky element. Soft gray walls along the hallways are designed with cork boards for student classwork, art, and announcements. Each classroom has an orange painted floor mat at the door, orange entrance and cut out above the door projecting natural light from the interior classroom windows. Seating arrangements within the commons have playful benches with open cubby spaces for shoes or books. Students are able to find creative ways to experience and move about these areas. The cafeteria is also used as a multipurpose space with long community tables and large windows.

    CQA uses the first floor of the mixed use building for its main entrance, classrooms, staff lounge, and the cafeteria. The school’s main stairway skips the second floor and goes directly to the third and fourth floors for the upper grade classrooms and gym.

    GLUCK+ focused on creating high functioning classrooms by keeping all classrooms on the perimeter with large windows for natural light. The HVAC system was created to have one unit for every two classrooms, with a HEPA filter for each one, bringing in outside filtered air to the rooms. This system creates an efficient way to heat and cool the classrooms.

    For the first time in the school’s ten-year history, the entire CQA community is now united under one roof in their new permanent home, which this year includes grades K-2 and 5-8.

    Design: GLUCK+
    Photography: Paul Vu