The Lycée Français de New York is located on a 200 foot deep through-block site east of York Avenue between East 75th and 76th Streets. Across approximately 158,000 square feet, two five-story structures connected by three full-lot floors, one at ground level and two below grade, comprise the new Lycée. The organizational strategy for the building defines the southern structure, above the ground floor, as the middle and high schools. The northern structure houses the pre-school and elementary school. A north-south bridge at the second level, adjacent to the exterior courtyard, links the two structures.
Shared school-wide program spaces such as libraries, cafeteria, auditorium and gymnasiums unify the school at the Ground and Lower levels. As the heart of the Lycée, they comprise the central space on each of the levels and provide an opportunity to define a true French Cultural Center for the school. At the entry level, a commons, or multi-purpose space, opposite the central lobby entry, serves a variety of functions from cafeteria to group meeting area. The grand staircase leads to the 354-seat auditorium, which is accessed through a double-height lobby. At the lowest level, flanking the auditorium, are the school’s two gymnasiums. On the second level, visible from the ground floor lobby, is an exterior courtyard providing a landscaped focal point for the building.
The roof of the northern building provides a secure play area. In the southern building, a sixth floor penthouse includes an art studio, student lounge and college counseling offices. Specialty classrooms and administrative and faculty offices are distributed throughout both structures.
Unifying the overall design is a framework articulated by a system of horizontal channels and vertical column enclosures. Throughout, masonry and glass are juxtaposed, connecting the past and the future by signifying the memory of the masonry traditions of the original school buildings and at the same time the promise of the future as conveyed by the glass. A unifying one-story granite base bearing the names of significant French and American historical and cultural figures defines both the East 75th and 76th Street buildings and connotes the Lycée’s respect for the educational landscape in which it lives.