This winter PAVE Academy Charter School moved into its welcoming new home in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Originally established in 2008, PAVE serves a high-needs population of low-income kids with a rigorous academic program built on the core values of Perseverance, Achievement, Vibrance, and Excellent Character, or PAVE.
Pentagram’s Paula Scher has designed a program of environmental graphics for the school that capture its mission and spirit in large-scale typography that is part of the building itself.
Remarkably, PAVE’s new 40,000 sq ft building is the first elementary school to be built in Red Hook in over 50 years, and it will eventually educate a student body of about 400 in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. The school was developed by Civic Builders, non-profit developers who partner with the New York City Department of Education to build charter schools. Scher previously worked with Civic Builders on graphics for two other schools, Excellence Charter School and Achievement First Endeavor Middle School. Like those schools, PAVE relies on positive messaging to help motivate its students, and Scher and her team have turned these educational phrases into bold supergraphics that are integrated with the architecture, designed by Mitchell/Giurgola Architects.
Students arriving at PAVE are greeted by dimensional signage at the school’s entrance. Wrapped around a corner, the name “PAVE Academy” emerges from the surface of the building in 2 ft deep letterforms. The interior planes of the aluminum letters have been painted yellow to create visual impact.
PAVE’s motto is “Building citizens and scholars brick by brick,” and inside the school various educational slogans have been combined with the architecture to create a dynamic environment for learning. Inexpensive materials like tile and paint are used to maximum effect, with phrases like “Hammer it home,” “Be sharp,” and “Do the right thing” rendered as intricate tile mosaics in the school cafeteria and in painted typographic friezes running along the hallways. The “brick by brick” motto appears as an 7 ft high painted mural that wraps around the walls of the school gymnasium. The typography is set in Benton Sans, to complement the school’s existing identity.
The school’s eye-catching, one-of-a-kind appearance has helped make it a point of pride in the community, and the students and teachers love it.
Text and photography copyright of Pentagram.