Stuyvesant Continues Building Renovations Amid Remote Instruction

During the pandemic, Stuyvesant continued its plans for renovation, including escalator replacements and the construction of a new robotics lab.

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By Sasha Socolow

While the Stuyvesant building was nearly devoid of people for the past year, its plans for renovations did not come to a halt. Stuyvesant has completed replacing 12 of its 13 escalators and is currently working on the construction of a new robotics lab.


Though the building’s escalators had previously gone through renovations pre-pandemic, the lack of students in the building has proved advantageous to the project’s completion. “The pandemic has actually helped with the completion of this project, as the company (Kone) has been able to continue work throughout and with less interference from school events and activities,” Assistant Principal of Security/Health and P.E. Brian Moran said in an e-mail interview.

The replacements were prompted after the two-to-four escalator malfunctioned while students were on it, causing several injuries. Since then, the escalators have gone under construction, creating an inconvenience in traveling through the building. “In the two years since the accident, students have been without escalators, for the most part, making traveling between classes exponentially more difficult,” Moran said.

After hearing concerns, former Principal Eric Contreras pushed to replace all escalators. “Mr. [Eric] Contreras had been an advocate for a full replacement of the escalators for some time and was able to help get the project started,” he said. “The project has been funded and managed by the School Construction Authority and did not come from the school budget.”

The new escalators are planned to be fully functioning for the upcoming school year. “The 13 escalators are being replaced and [the company is] currently working on the final set of escalators, with an estimated completion date of June 2021,” Moran said.

Stuyvesant’s old escalators often broke down throughout the school day, especially during the few minutes students had to travel between their classes. “I’ve had a tough relationship with Stuy’s escalators as they almost never worked when I needed them to, and as a result, I would have to rush through several flights of stairs,” junior Junhao Zhen said.

This was especially inconvenient due to the number of floors in the Stuyvesant building. “I had to do more walking up and down the stairs [because of the escalators]; my second semester of freshman year I had to go from the 10th to the third to the ninth to the first [floor] which was really annoying,” sophomore Maya Brosnick said in an e-mail interview.

Teachers faced this hindrance as well. “Our school is very tall and going more than three stories between classrooms is a lot. On top of this, the lower stairwells can get very congested,” social studies teacher David Hanna said in an e-mail interview.

In facing fewer of these issues in the upcoming school year, students are positive about its replacement. “I'm very excited. I didn't really expect them to get done for years,” Brosnik said. “Hopefully it will allow [students] to get to classes faster.”

Zhen expressed similar enthusiasm. “I can’t express how excited I am for September,” he said. “I look forward to being able to get to class quicker and not having to blame the escalators for my lateness.”

Teachers are hopeful that the new renovations will mitigate trouble for students as they move through the building. “I’m really excited for the renovations and once all escalators work, students will comfortably move around the school at [a] much faster pace and not worry about being late to their next class,” music teacher Liliya Shamazov said in an e-mail interview.

Many also acknowledge the ease that students will have with the new escalators. “The renovated escalators will make it easier, faster, and safer for both teachers and students to move around the building, which will ultimately lead to more productive school/work days and cause less stress in between class periods,” social studies teacher Svetlana Firdman said in an e-mail interview.

To keep the escalators in good condition and ensure students’ safety, students are expected to follow the standard rules in riding the escalators. “Never sit or face [backward] while riding the escalator, never place bags or loose clothing on or near the steps or on the railings, never stand in the middle of the step, never slide on the railing, or jump off the escalator, never [overcrowd] the escalator,” Moran said. “Maintain your distance to the person in front and behind, never attempt to travel up a down escalator, and inform the administration immediately should you see or hear something wrong.”

Robotics Lab

The new Robotics lab was designed and developed by Stuyvesant teachers and external engineers. “I worked with [technology teacher] Mr. [Joseph] Blay, our Robotics Coach, (and Mr. Kunicki, another coach who works with the team) to develop a design concept for the Robotics Lab, and then the EME Group (Architectural Consulting Engineers who work with the Division of School Facilities) developed the design plans for the lab,” Assistant Principal of Chemistry & Physics Thomas Scott said in an e-mail interview.

Initially, the lab was intended to be complete by the start of 2020, but the date was postponed due to technicalities. “The original plan was to finish the Robotics Lab by January of 2020, but the project was delayed because the HVAC design needed to be modified,” Scott said. “Because of the pandemic, the contractors could not get into the school building to start construction until September of 2020.”

The lab will be furnished with an array of new equipment. “The lab will have a metal printer, a fiber printer, and an FDM printer along with several other pieces of fabrication equipment,” Scott said. “The students will be able to print objects in stainless steel, titanium, copper, carbon-fiber, and pc-abs (to name a few).”

Many see potential in the use of the new lab, especially for the robotics team. “Once the renovation is done, it will be immensely helpful for students and staff. The students who are on the robotics teams will have a new space to work in that will finally be big enough to house us and everything that we do,” Blay said in an e-mail interview. “In addition, the robotics classes will be able to run in the new lab, exposing all of the students who take the classes to [state-of-art] equipment.”

Students on the robotics team express enthusiasm for the additional space and new technology to aid in their work. “It’ll be super helpful to have a space for robotics again. When we were still in person, we had to share the innovation lab with both Sci[ence] Olympiad and the FTC teams, or utilize the ceramics lab. The space that was available to us drastically decreased,” junior Michelle Zhang said in an e-mail interview. “The new lab would also provide us with space for a lot of our new machines [...] Most importantly, we’re getting an enormous amount of space to work in, which I’m really looking forward to.”

In addition to these renovations, Stuyvesant is planning for more projects in the future. “We have discussed the idea of building a new recording studio in Room 154, a new photocopy room in Room 253, a new environmental lab in Rooms 336 and 338, a new weight room in Room 580, and a nano lab with a [cleanroom] in Room 909 along with the idea of creating an observation desk with new classroom space on the balcony outside the cafeteria on the 5th floor,” Scott said.

These new additions are hoped to be an aspect of Stuyvesant to look forward to in the upcoming school year. “This should be an exciting September for students for many reasons but having state of the art escalators which actually work should make traveling from class to class much easier for students,” Moran said.