ST. MARTIN DE PORRES ACADEMY
NEW HAVEN, CT
TPA provided civil engineering and landscape architecture design services for the development of the St. Martin de Porres Academy in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven. The site's history as the home for the Sacred Heart Parish was reflected in the 1857 Gothic Revival Church, 1894 school, and 1896 convent and rectory buildings. Aside from parking lot and basketball court, the block was little changed from its status in the City's 1911 Atlas (seen at right).
The Academy’s needs for the site were significantly different from those of the Archdiocese. While the school retained a religious affiliation, it had no meaningful ability to use the deteriorating convent and rectory buildings for educational purposes. Instead, these building were becoming attractive nuisances for the neighborhood, inviting vandalism and requiring upkeep that diverted donations away from the Academy's core mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education and opportunity.
The intent of the master plan and site plan approval process was to demonstrate a cohesive vision for future success that would invite donations from supporters. TPA worked with the architect and owner’s representative to evaluate the feasibility and probable cost of demolishing the convent and rectory and using those portions of the site to support future programming such as parking, student dropoff, a practice field, and a sport court. Salvage of original mantles, mouldings, tiles, and other artifacts from these historic structures would help defray some of the cost to the Academy as well as help these historic objects find new homes.
The church building, with its companion steeple to the school, will become a gymnasium in a future phase. The removal of buildings from the site will actually result in a net reduction of impervious surfaces. High SRI pavers, tree plantings, and other landscape features will further alleviate the urban heat island effect and establish a more pleasant area for students to engage in sports and outdoor learning.
Other planned site improvements include a subsurface drainage system, LED lighting, and a signature gateway element along Columbus Avenue. Secure storage enclosures for the school's buses and refuse bins will make these items less susceptible to damage and illegal dumping.A rain garden along the school walkway offers an opportunity to engage students about hydrology and native plants.