The Evolution of TPS Space

 By Carlye Nelson-Major, Associate Head

The physical space at TPS has evolved and expanded over time. Our Lombard Street building was not built as a school. TPS purchased the property, originally the New York Pie Baking Company and later Global Security, in 1989 after renting spaces in parts of the 2501 Lombard building beginning in 1976 (four years after our founding).

Over the years we did our best to retrofit spaces to meet the needs of our students and our program. It’s been a hodgepodge of transitions, with increasing intentionality around achieving a thoughtful master design. We have updated mechanical systems, added a gym, expanded into the 2503 Lombard building, renovated the 3rd floor and Middle School areas – more than once! - and tweaking small spaces in between those major renovations.

TPS took on another renovation this summer to further enhance our Lombard Street classroom spaces. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms on the second floor were gutted down to the studs and reconfigured to redistribute and optimize the spaces. This project took two years of careful planning, designing, and execution to create child-centered spaces that will withstand the test of time.

A small building project team met weekly over the past year to bring this renovation to fruition. Our process was rooted in the understanding that best practice school design keeps pace with research on how students learn best. We wanted to ensure that our design reflected the flexible needs of a progressive approach to teaching and learning and allowed our classrooms to be places that fostered curiosity, connections, exploration, and collaboration. Ideas, concerns, and hopes were solicited from teachers early and often by the architect and project team. Acoustics, lightening, storage, and flexibility were key concerns discussed.


The outcome includes evenly sized teaching spaces. Each classroom has a folding partition wall to divide the room into two acoustically separated teaching spaces. Storage has been maximized, and adjacencies improved. The design followed the aesthetics of our earlier Middle School renovations – simple, flexible, functional, and beautiful.

It was a Herculean effort on the part of many people to get this project designed, approved, and executed. The architect, project managers, and construction company communicated well and problem solved throughout the process in order to bring the renovation in on time and under budget. Yes, on time and under budget!!  Special thanks to the Building Committee and to Director of Finance and Operations Carol Lerner and Plant Manager Brian Harrity for their daily tending of the project; we could not have done this without them.

Please pop up to the Lombard 2nd floor at the end of any day to take a look at this remarkable transformation. It’s a space that will beautifully support our student’s learning for years to come. At the same time as we savor the results of this project, our Building Committee is beginning the process of taking a close look at the building’s remaining unrenovated spaces and updating the master plan so it closely aligns with our strategic plan.  Learn here. Go anywhere.