Pratt Institute is contemplating a new building to house the School of Architecture

Since 1954, students and faculty of Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture have attended class, built models, and studied in a number of buildings on the Brooklyn campus, most notably Higgins Hall. The Romanesque Revival building delivered by Mundell and Teckritz in 1868 has been renovated and expanded several times (and almost completely burned down), and may now be reaching the end of its life serving the School of Architecture. In a letter addressed to faculty this week, Pratt’s dean of the School of Architecture, Quilian Riano, shared the institution is looking into “potential ways to deliver a new Pratt School of Architecture building that would meet our current and future needs.”

In the letter, Riano presented several reasons for the school’s intention to decamp from Higgins Hall. It said recent studies of Higgins have found the building requires $57 million “to address deferred maintenance and upgrades needed to meet Local Law 97.” Local Law 97, which went into effect earlier this year, sets stringent limits on the carbon emission of buildings in line with the city’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. Riano’s letter also said Higgins Hall requires $14 million to increase the building’s electrical capacity—the building has already “maxed out its Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and the electrical capacity.” On top of this, enrollment numbers have increased.

A Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) has been drafted and is ready to be sent out to developers with the intention they ideate a new scheme for the site, one that could, hopefully, involve new housing and a new architecture school building at the intersection of DeKalb Avenue and Classon Avenue. As the idea is very much in its infancy, details are scarce, however, information provided in the letter suggested the new building would be 140,000 square feet.

“I am excited about this potential building project,” Riano said in the letter. “I am excited that we can deliver to our faculty and students a space to meet their needs for technological, building, planting, and planning innovations. You are changing the way we teach with more collective studios, with increased experimentation, and with full-scale building studies becoming much more common and we as a community deserve spaces to do this important work.”

As for next steps, Riano said he is looking to assemble a committee, with faculty from each department, to consider this endeavor and collect the needs of the school. He added that he welcomes feedback and discussion on the matter and said meetings will be planned for the start of the Fall 2024 semester to consider it further.

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