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Doane Stuart School

Location: Rensselaer, New York

Period: 1930 - 1939

National Register of Historic Places

The historic portions of the Van Rensselaer School Building were constructed in two ventures between 1930 and 1939, blending Art Deco details with the Classical Revival structure. In 1995, a modern addition was constructed at the rear of the building that nearly doubled the size of the facility.  The Van Rensselaer School Building continuously served as a public school for the City of Rensselaer for nearly eighty years. In 2008, the Doane Stuart School, a private interfaith day school founded in 1975, purchased the facility to serve as the new home to their campus. 


In 2008, MCWB was contracted to conduct a feasibility study and develop a master plan for upgrades and renovations so that the Doane Stuart School could make the transition to its new campus.  Given the historic nature of portions of the building, many original features were retained and restored, including ceramic tile in the corridors, cabinets and other woodwork in the classrooms, and original plaster work. The old library was restored for use as a board room.  The 1930 gymnasium was redesigned as the school’s Interfaith Chapel, with new lighting, seating, custom wall paneling, and a new organ.  About half of the classrooms in the 1930s portion of the building were converted into administrative offices. 


The former cafeteria in the 1995 addition was redesigned as the Commons with new skylights, flooring and finishes.  The space was designed to create a smooth transition between the historic 1930/1939 portion of the school and the modern addition. Exterior restoration was also part of the scope of work, including new roofing, stabilization of deteriorated masonry parapets, restoration of the cupola and other historic features.  Upgrades were made to the building systems including the complete replacement of all existing electric power and lighting systems, partial replacement of the HVAC system and an upgrade of the toilet rooms.  Portions of the work were designed to accommodate special programming requirements such as science laboratory plumbing and fume hoods.  A dedicated HVAC system was installed to serve the main gathering space and chapel.  The lighting systems included Art Deco and school house styles in the public circulation.

In 2012, the school came back to the firm to design a new vegetative roof over the 1995 addition.  The firm assisted the school in pursuing a New York State grant from the Environmental Facilities Corporation for the vegetative roof to help promote this technology in New York State.  The grant was awarded in 2013 and the project was completed in November 2014.  

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