It’s Swimming Season at Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse

Though the frigid and blustery winter persists outside, inside the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club’s Murphy Clubhouse pool, the atmosphere is warm and bright.

This week, ESKW/A met up with photographer David Sundberg of Esto Photography for a photoshoot of the recently completed Thomas S. Murphy pool. The Boys & Girls Club graciously allowed us to sit in on an afternoon swim program so that we could capture the kids in action.

We’re immensely proud of the renovation (one discerning nine-year old swimmer remembered swimming in the pool pre-renovation and graded the work as an A+++), and we can’t wait to share the official photos. For now, take a look at some quick pics we took at the photoshoot.





It’s Giving Season!

One of our seasonal traditions here at ESKW/A is the annual holiday gift donation drive. Headed up by illustrious office manager Lauretta daCruz, we collected donations from the office, shopped for gifts, wrapped ’em up, and hand delivered to students at Explore Charter School in Brooklyn. A school social worker and high school placement coordinator identified families who could use some additional cheer this holiday season. The guardians were contacted, and the kids provide a wish list. Each child received special gifts selected just for them off of their list.

We had a lovely haul this year, and we’re grateful to everyone who participated. Happy Holidays to all!


Schools & Community; a Presentation at the AIA

Kimberly Murphy at AIA

The presenters

On December 10th, the AIANY Architecture for Education Committee sponsored an event moderated by Mark Thaler, Educational Practice Leader of Gensler.  The evening showcased two school projects in the NYC area that represent successful symbioses with their communities, “Community Schools: Process, Program, and Promise.”

ESKW/A was proud to take part in the presentation: our own Kimberly Murphy, along with Dattner Architects‘ Jeffrey Dugan and New Settlement Apartments‘ Jack Doyle, discussed the collaborative creative process and subsequent success of the New Settlement Community Campus.

Vincent Lee, Associate Partner of Rogers Partners, presented The Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School, for which he collaborated closely with Annette C. Anderson, Assistant Dean for Community Schools at Johns Hopkins University.  Their inspiring project, a school in Baltimore that faced the unique design challenge of building within a historic area that was rapidly being rebuilt, made for an interesting comparison with NSCC.  Rogers Partners and the community’s successful solutions for the unusual school program and challenging site provided us with much food for thought.

Quote Jeff Dugan

The event delivered a rich discussion on a topic we value highly; the importance of architect + community collaboration.

Jeffrey Dugan and Kimberly Murphy answered questions about the unusual creative process, in which the teams swapped schemes midway through the design scheme phase:

“We think the building came out unlike one that we would have designed alone, so in some sense when you think about community, collaboration really is part of a community action.”

“I can be honest with you, as an architect I was nervous to do that — give it away, and let someone else break it? That was really difficult. But it made us realize that (the design) was a group process, and it definitely came out better in the end than it would have been if just one person had worked on it. I think it was a real growth moment.”

Jack Doyle quoteThough located in areas of their respective cities that can be subject to vandalism, both projects have remained unmarred.  Vincent and Jack attributed that fact to an appreciation for the buildings and their role in the community.


“I think if you were to go around the neighborhood by the school you’d see a lot of graffiti, but in the 2.5 years the building has been built, there has been no graffiti. We also have a lot of glass, and one thing that’s not uncommon nowadays in NYC is to use etching acid to graffiti glass … and there have been no incidents of that. I think that people in the community recognize that this building acknowledges and respects their children for what they are and what they should have. It’s a gift, it’s what every child should have.”

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Pool Party: Renovating the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club

ESKWA Madison Pool 1

Not long ago, the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club reached out for a redesign of their indoor community pool at the Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse, in Flatbush, Brooklyn.  The existing natatorium is original to the 1920’s building and is in need of an update – including re-shaping and re-finishing the pool, renovation of the girls’ locker rooms, and providing a lobby for spectators.

ESKW/A render and plan

ESKW/A render and plan

Inspired by both the historic nature of the building and the work of the Club, we aimed to blend traditional and modern design influences, and most of all to showcase the heart of the Club – the kids themselves.  Our design includes a monochromatic glass tile mosaic commencing in the Pool Lobby and extending 90’ along the length of the pool room which would depict underwater swimming children. To that end, the Club along with Owner’s Representative LOM Properties organized a photoshoot with New York photographer Hatim, using 2 swim teams of about 30 children altogether. The images of the children will be used in the mosaic truly capturing the motion of the club kids for posterity in the pool room.

Annie Kountz, Project Architect, describes the experience:

The Boys & Girls Club is such an inspiring place. It provides both a haven and a fun place for kids. The skills and confidence that they gain by learning to swim or play basketball enhances their lives, and sets up good healthy life skills for the future, too.

I think what is so special about Madison is that it believes in the inherent goodness in everyone. It believes that ALL kids, no matter what their race, religion, or creed, deserve the opportunities to reach their full potential. The Club provides classes in art, fitness, recreation, health, leadership, parenting, and life skills.  Madison gives thousands of kids a place to go after school. It provides a safe place to learn and grow.  It gives positive adult role models, and most of all I think it gives hope and opportunity.

The project has been meaningful to me personally because I was a Boys & Girls Club kid.  I loved it! I played in Boys & Girls Clubs basketball leagues for years. It wasn’t just an alternative to daycare to keep me busy while my dad worked multiple jobs—it taught me about perseverance and hard work and it gave me lifelong friends.

The Boys & Girls Club in general is such an amazing organization, but what I think makes the pool renovation particularly special is the giant mosaic. The kids were so, so excited about it!  It must mean so much to them that THEY are on the WALL! The kiddos will be edified on a GIANT 10’x100’ wall.  We went through loads of iterations for the tile and wall designs.  For a while we considered a giant Olympic swimmer, but doing a big mosaic of the members themselves is in perfect keeping with the mission of the Club. It tells the kids that they are special and heroic.  They all felt like super heroes! And that was the energy and level of excitement at the photoshoot. The kids had a great time and the photos turned out great.          

Below, we invite you to enjoy the results of what turned out to be a very energetic, fun, and successful day. And please stay tuned to watch these images be transformed into the final mosaic design and then ultimately get built at the Club early next year.

ICL salutes Peter Campanelli

Group Photo at ICL's Gala

Photo Credit: Ben Asen Photography, h/t Melissa Fisher

The Institute for Community Living (ICL) celebrated its 27th anniversary last week at the Ritz Carlton in lower Manhattan. The event was made bittersweet by the departure of Peter Campanelli, ICL’s founder who is retiring after 27 years of service to teach at NYU. This not-for-profit organization, a longtime client of ESKW/A, provides social, medical, and affordable housing services for individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities – an often overlooked population in New York City.

ESKW/A has built several projects that are tailored to the special needs of ICL, such as space for support services, group activities, rehabilitation, and job search assistance; these projects include Lewis Avenue, Lawton Avenue, Stepping Stone, and Milestone I + II, as well ICL’s Corporate Offices. We are proud to partner with this organization that does so much for this underserved population of our city.