Brooklyn Aozora Gakuen



Brooklyn, USA

Client: Brooklyn Aozora Gakuen

4,000 SF

Lighting Design

Lightful, Brooklyn, New York


Naho Kubota, New York, New York

For some organizations, the design of their physical environment is central to their mission. Schools for example put into practice their teaching philosophies through the arrangement of their spaces. But many schools believe they're not in a financial position to commission an architectural design. It's a paradox that people who would benefit greatly from architecture feel they don't have access to it. To realize this school affordably, the design employs the simple basics of architecture: organizing uses and enhancing the quality of light.


As a cost saving measure the school leased a property with several undesirable conditions, which made it affordable compared to others in the area. The school occupies a structural transfer floor between a residential tower above and levels of parking below. To support the two different parts of the building, the space is filled with columns. Some columns support the highrise while others accommodate the car ramp and parking clearances. Together, they form an irregular pattern of structure that presented challenges to use the space. On top of that, the plan of the offered area is oddly shaped.

Inaba Williams made the most of these existing conditions. The spaces are arranged around a central drop off and pick up area. Tall glass panels installed along interior walls draw natural light into this main communal space. Here an existing large column supporting transfer beams is left exposed and frames the wood floor that functions as a threshold to two classrooms. On the other side of the column is a small nook for kids to sit and play while waiting for parents during pick up. As playful diversions, other columns protrude out of walls and cast shadows, revealing traces of the original structure.

Project Team

Design: Inaba Williams - Jeffrey Inaba, Sharon Leung, Zena Mariam Zengesha

Mechanical Engineer: Tan Engineering - Roger Tan, Sehrish Butt

Lighting Design: Lightful - David Wilburn

General Contractor: Bellwood Construction - Yoji Suzuki

Photographer: Naho Kubota