NYHS Gets a Functional Facelift

With the help of a professional designer, NYHS is investing in structural and aesthetic updates.

Room+201%2C+which+hosts+World+History%2C+Health%2C+and+Modern+Middle+East+class%2C+contains+brand+new+furniture+that+allows+for+easy+reconfiguration+and+collaborative+work+setups.+

Elianna Rothstein

Room 201, which hosts World History, Health, and Modern Middle East class, contains brand new furniture that allows for easy reconfiguration and collaborative work setups.

You’re sitting in Room 400, the lights are dim, the dirty beige walls are chipping, the carpets are stained, and you’re looking down at the scribbles all over your creaking desk. NYHS Head of School Jason Feld says that the school has not gotten any big design updates for a few decades. This year, however, the board of directors has decided to update the school campus with the help of Seattle designer Heidi McNulty. This project is presumed to be completed in phases over the next few years. 

Jason Kintzer, former board president, current board member, and residential real estate developer, suggested the school work with McNulty. “I have seen her work and I have confidence in her ability to achieve the school’s goals,” he said. McNulty ​is primarily a designer who works with residential builders on interior and exterior finishes, but she also does interior design and decor for homeowners.

McNulty says that the first thing the board wants to do is make sure the school is structurally sound and has everything it needs.  “You don’t want to spend a lot of money on new stuff if it could possibly be damaged,” she said. Any time it rains heavily, the lower level of the school gets flooded due to the draining arrangment. They will begin by working with FM Construction to install French drains to keep water out of the lower level of the school by moving it away from the building. This process will involve digging a trench near the foundation, and adding a layer of gravel and piping that is hooked up to the gutters. 

Additionally, the outdoor space will be refreshed. ​The plan is to remove much of the shrubbery along the walkways and entrance to the school. This will open up the space and make the doors to the school more visible. McNulty also plans to add a large patio area off the front door of the school with posts on each corner to hold string lights. This will provide an outdoor gathering area for the school community.

As for the interior, the idea is to go for a professional look. The school will be installing luxury vinyl plank flooring in the hallways and lobby and new carpets in the classrooms. Feld is looking forward to creating a maker space in the 300 room as well. This will be beneficial for STEM classes and will enable student creativity. Lastly, NYHS has just replaced the school’s fluorescent lights with ultraviolet lights to prevent eye fatigue and help students stay alert and attentive. In Seattle, without much sunshine exposure, natural light in classrooms is often dim. Good artificial lighting is a prominent dupe. 

This does not replace quality education, but it helps by supporting the students’ academic success, says Feld.  “Good learning can happen anywhere, but the learning space will enhance it.”

Click here for the document that outlines the “finish specifications” for NYHS’ renovations. (Courtesy of Heidi McNulty)

Student Design Suggestions

  • “Replace the current –and only – water fountain at school with an updated, bottle filler/fountain combination.” (Harrison Feld, 12th grade)
  • “I’d love a large heated and covered outdoor space with enough chairs for everyone to sit and eat lunch at.” (Anna Benoliel, 12th grade)
  • “More outlets or an area with charging ports for students’ computers.” (Ben Weichbrodt, 9th grade)
  • “Add more color around the school.” (Leah Gonzalez, 9th grade)
  • “Update and clean the basketball court.” (Yehonatan Rothstein, 11th grade)
  • “Covered walkways from the main building to the portables would help tremendously on rainy Seattle days.” (Ella Endres, 12th grade)