PBDW’s design for an addition to the facilities of one of the oldest educational institutions in New York City creates an iconic new ”vertical commons,” that unifies the entire school with a curved daylight-filled atrium and sweeping grand stair. Set in the heart of the school’s grounds adjacent to two landmarked structures, the addition enlivens the school while respecting its historic context. The atrium brings light deep into the building, and acts as a visual and spatial hub for the campus. As a primary route connecting the rooftop athletic field, with the below-grade cafeteria and intervening floors of classrooms, libraries and courtyard spaces, the generously proportioned grand stair draws students from all grades through the atrium, a highly visible shared space that is equally “owned” by all divisions of the school. This new “vertical commons” becomes the social heart of the campus, encouraging casual encounters between all members of the school community as they pass through, observe, meet, sit, study and interact in this vibrant central artery of the campus.