ARO is designing an addition in a former bank for Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights

“Learning for its own sake”

ARO is designing an addition in a former bank for Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights

The historic storefront at 142 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn was previously a Citibank. ARO is working with Saint Ann’s to repurpose the historic building as a school. (Courtesy ARO)

Stanley Bosworth was a pioneer in childhood education. When Saint Ann’s opened its doors in 1965, Bosworth was its first headmaster, and the Brooklyn Heights school became one of the first in the world to not have grades. “Learning for its own sake” was Bosworth’s famous motto. Since then, Saint Ann’s has graduated notables including artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, the children of Susan Sarandon, Norman Mailer, and other famous New Yorkers.

Now, an addition by Architecture Research Office (ARO) in downtown Brooklyn will offer Saint Ann’s a new hub that centralizes classrooms, art rooms, performance spaces, assembly areas, and more. The building slated for adaptive reuse was previously a Citibank—a historic edifice replete with a 1930s limestone facade and art deco motifs.

The building at 142 Pierrepont will centralize the Lower, Middle, and High School at Saint Ann’s, and add space for performances, and community gatherings. (Courtesy ARO)

Saint Ann’s currently spreads its preschool, kindergarten, Lower, Middle, and High School, performance, and administrative programming throughout seven buildings in Brooklyn Heights. Its largest, and perhaps most known, is The Bosworth Building at 129 Pierrepont Street—the former Crescent Athletic Club House.

The famous institution’s eighth and newest (old) building is at 142 Pierrepont Street. There, Saint Ann’s seeks to centralize several functions by shifting the Lower, Middle, and High School under the same roof; along with assembly and arts spaces. Upon completion, the upgraded venue will be Saint Ann’s first building meant for the entire school community.

Typical Classroom (Courtesy ARO)
Art Room (Courtesy ARO)

“142 Pierrepont will be incredible for Saint Ann’s,” said Kenyatte Reid, head of the school. “It will bring our community closer together and is a great investment into the future of our School.”

ARO’s design seeks to amplify and celebrate the building’s distinct architectural character by flooding the existing dark, enclosed interiors designed for banking with natural light for school children.

Lobby (Courtesy ARO)

Toward that end, the architects aim to leverage the space’s double-height banking hall to make for a great central lobby area. Beyond the lobby, a new arts and community space will manifest, equipped with telescope seating. This space will host myriad activities steaming with creativity  including playwriting festivals, music ensembles, and more.

The renovation also proffers new classrooms, lower school STEAM labs, recreational space, and multi-use movement space. Space for kindergarteners will occupy the top floors, crowned by a roof scape by toy designer Cas Holman. The design is ADA compliant, conducted with accessibility consultant KMA, to ensure physical access throughout the campus and maximal inclusivity. All of this is meant to help Saint Ann’s “nurture the wonder of children.”

Roof Skylight (Courtesy ARO)

Renderings of the project realized with a painting-like texture recall the childhood wonder depicted in the scenes as well as further the ethos of the school. Opportunities to stage art and play are apparent throughout, from the typical classroom settings to the grand lobby to the rooftop playscape.

Arts and Community Space (Courtesy ARO)

The project team is led by architect Stephen Cassell, a partner at ARO and Saint Ann’s grad, who also sent his daughter there. “Having been connected to Saint Ann’s for most of my life, as both a student and as a parent, it is especially meaningful to now work with the school on a design that will support the joy of learning and community that is at the heart of this institution,” Cassell said in a statement.

Saint Ann’s building at 142 Pierrepont is slated to open fall 2026.