Cities’ appeal to young families leads to ‘new kind of work’ for architect

Joshua Burd//September 16, 2014

Cities’ appeal to young families leads to ‘new kind of work’ for architect

Joshua Burd//September 16, 2014

Barry Poskanzer has spent years watching the trend lines, and it’s the growth of young urban families that has helped create a new niche for Poskanzer Skott Architects.

Not for multifamily projects — although his firm has done plenty of them — but for high-end child care centers serving those families as they flock to redeveloped cities.
“This is clearly a market in growing urban areas that are having an influx (of young families) like the new parts of Brooklyn along the water, as well as Jersey City, of course,” Poskanzer said. “And it’s a pretty upscale kind of facility.”
Poskanzer Skott is certainly tapping into that market. The Ridgewood-based firm recently completed the design of its third project in Jersey City for River School, which operates facilities for children age 2 months to 6 years old, and it’s now exploring similar projects in other urban areas.
River School first tapped the firm in 2009 when it was expanding in the city’s Newport development, where Poskanzer Skott has long worked for the development firm LeFrak, Poskanzer said. That has led to two more projects in Jersey City’s Exchange Place neighborhood, including its most recent, a 5,500-square-foot facility at 256 Warren St.

Poskanzer, a partner with the firm, said the projects reflect the shift of young, dual-income families moving to trendy cities. Poskanzer Skott has done traditional “neighborhood day care centers” in past years, but the more recent niche is “really driven by an upscale population.”

 “This one is clearly a new kind of work that happens in gentrification of urban areas,” he said. “That’s become a new dynamic and those … two parents working have the income to support a private day care.”
Poskanzer said, “Each one of the projects gets significantly more interesting, as we know more about the way they want to have an environment for their kids.” From a design standpoint, the facilities need hallways and reception areas that are both inviting and secure to give parents peace of mind as their drop off their children.
Storage space is also key, as are colors and design elements aimed at helping the students learn, he said. And classroom sizes must comply with strict regulations tied to student capacity and teacher ratios.
Poskanzer sees it as a growing niche, thanks to the continuing demographic shift. Then again, being in the service industry means you’re always following demographic shifts, he said.

“I can only respond to the projects that are being needed,” he said. “Probably on some level, every project I do is driven by a change in demographics, whether it’s people wanting to be renting versus owning based on where they’re located.

“Am I doing lots of multifamily housing now? Of course I am, because that’s what the market is. Was I doing condominium townhouses 15 years ago? Yes, that’s what was being built,” he added. “This one is following the need.”


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