SAR Academy and High School, a private Modern Orthodox Jewish facility in the Bronx, was the first NYC school to close due to COVID-19. The school administration quickly acknowledged the need to reevaluate its building facilities and operations, along with class schedules and sizes amongst other factors to develop a flexible plan to reopen the school safely this fall.

Architects Esther Sperber and Hila Stern were called upon to lead the Academy in its efforts towards reinvention. “We had to revise both facilities and usage plans, but we also had to include some student/teacher behavior change in our design methodology,” said Hila Stern, owner of HSB Architecture & Design in a statement. “Our approach included some newly acquired habits and behaviors.”