As one of the City of Buffalo's top performing elementary schools, School 81 received a complete reconstruction as part of the district's Phase IV Reconstruction Project. The 90 year old building underwent a 93,000 SF renovation of existing space, and received a 24,000 SF addition to transform the building into a 21st century learning environment. Part of the new three story building addition included adding a new four stop front and rear opening, 3,200 lb capacity hole-less hydraulic elevator. Watts was the Architect of Record in addition to providing hazardous materials, and mechanical engineering services.
As a historic building eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the work done fell under the jurisdiction of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. While sensitivity to the historic character of the existing building drove the renovation, a dialog between old and new construction informed the design of the building's addition, thus serving to complement, rather than compete with the historic building.
The existing building received technology, life safety, and an overhaul of finishes and spaces to bring it up to current requirements for today's educational needs. An addition was added to provide a new science lab, classrooms, technology classroom, and a defined main entrance with administrative suite.