Three hundred people representing Brooklyn Friends School’s (BFS) past, present and future celebrated the opening of the school’s new, 40,000-square-foot facility for the 9th through 12th grade Upper School at 116 Lawrence St. in Downtown Brooklyn on Sept. 8.
The new facility, which welcomes 200 students and 40 faculty members this September, is a stand-alone “building within a building” at the first three floors of One MetroTech Center — the first building in MetroTech). It is just one block away from the school’s main building at 375 Pearl St.
The college-preparatory Quaker school, with 895 students from age two through 12th grade, has partnered with Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) to bring the new facility to life.
“This project is more than just a building,” said Head of School Dr. Larry Weiss in announcing the opening of the new high school. “It’s a successful venture between a school with an enduring imprint on the borough of Brooklyn and one of our country’s leading real estate businesses. We are grateful that FCRC’s creative, forward-thinking acumen brought their company and our school together in this enterprise.”
Weiss continued, “Having a new high school facility for BFS is a long-held dream which is finally being realized thanks to the enormous efforts of our school’s board of trustees and to many other friends and supporters. That we were able to secure the space in MetroTech — a thriving center for commerce, academia and government — brings all of us joy beyond measure.”
The school signed a long-term lease for the property with FCRC in October 2013, and construction began in September 2014. FX FOWLE Architects designed the building, and R.P. Brennan was the general contractor. FCRC provided infrastructure support for the facility’s construction.
Spread across three floors, the academic space has more than 40 classrooms, seminar rooms and faculty offices, as well as four visual art studios, three music studio classrooms, four science laboratories, a black box theater classroom, a wet darkroom and digital media center, a dance studio, a fully-equipped fitness center, a high-tech library and a café that can double as a community meeting space for almost 300 people. The entire space is wired for the Internet and every classroom has been designed with the latest-generation technology for teaching and learning. All BFS Upper School students have school-issued Chromebook computers, the school is fully wired with Wi-Fi and every classroom has interactive technologies.
The project was financed primarily by a loan from TD Bank, which will be paid back through voluntary giving to the not-for-profit school. A multi-year capital campaign, called “Light the Way” has already raised $2 million with support from BFS trustees, alumni, parents, grandparents and community members.
The new facility — the only one of its kind in MetroTech — has been designed to serve an enrollment of 240 students who experience a world-class education culminating in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program. Brooklyn Friends School is one of only 11 IB World Schools in New York City, and the school’s IB graduates have continued their education at colleges such as Yale, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia and NYU, among others.
Founded by the Religious Society of Friends at 110 Schermerhorn St. in 1867, BFS is one of the oldest continually operating independent schools in New York City and is recognized as one of the most diverse independent schools in the region.
At all levels, the educational program fosters critical thinking skills, intellectual rigor and emotional intelligence. The school’s graduates are compassionate, curious and confident global citizens who let their lives speak in the spirit of leadership and service.
Notable alumni include award-winning writer Francine Prose, The New York Times journalist William Glaberson, the actors Fisher Stevens and Dan Hedaya, New School professor and economist Dr. Darrick Hamilton, and Therese (Tay) Hohoff, the editor of Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”