LUBRANO CIAVARRA Architects (LCA) saw two great challenges when they set about designing Grand Concourse Academy Charter School. One, they needed to make the school stand out amidst the sea of red brick that pervades the Bronx neighborhood. And two, they had to design a building that would stand up to the elements – wind, rain, snow and, of course, kids being kids. The solution to both challenges was StoTherm ci Lotusan.

“Color was very important because it was a school,” said Joshua Barkan of LUBRANO CIAVARRA when describing why they chose StoTherm ci Lotusan. “We’ve used Sto before and were very happy with the textures but, for this project, we were more aware of the great color range.” According to Barkan, the design, which incorporated vertical bands of contrasting colors, was inspired by a box of crayons.

To create this signature, multi-hued, multi-panel look, Masucci Construction used a trowel, a roller, the complete StoTherm ci Lotusan system, and a little creativity. As with all Sto continuous insulation wall systems, it started with StoGuard air & moisture barrier under the cladding. Then continuous foam insulation was adhesively attached with Sto TurboStick. Next, to create the look of distinct panels, vertical channels were cut in the foam with v-shaped tool at regular intervals. And after a white base coat, Stolit Lotusan finish was troweled on using the StoSignature Stone application technique to create a stone texture, adding, in Barkan’s words, “additional depth and interest to the facade.” Finally, StoColor Lotusan coating in distinct colors was rolled on each individual “panel” to create the desired “box of crayons” look.

The result is a school children are excited to come to. And excited children bring us to our second great challenge: durability. It being a school, children will be playing. And children playing create havoc. The walls had to be able to withstand wayward basketballs, errant baseballs and other unforeseen student misadventures. So, in areas where heavy wear or potential impacts were expected, Armor Mat Mesh was added between the base coat and the smooth Stolit Lotusan finish being troweled on. The ultra-high impact, double-strand, interwoven, open-weave glass-fiber fabric is an option within the StoTherm ci system that provides extra impact resistance. It’s a popular option in hurricane and tornado prone areas or in situations that will encounter similar destructive forces, such as kids having fun.

In addition to ensuring that the walls could withstand their environment, LUBRANO CIAVARRA Architects also wanted to ensure that the signature colors could stand the test of time with minimal maintenance. “The self-cleaning properties will keep the colors vibrant,” said Barkan, citing another reason for choosing StoTherm ci Lotusan.

"Parents, teachers and students all love the design. According to Brian Zuidema of Sto of New Jersey who worked closely with all the contractors on the project, the men and women who built the school loved the design too. “Because LUBRANO CIAVARRA designed in individual panels, the workers could concentrate on one panel at a time,” Zuidema said, “It was really a great design.” Zuidema also pointed out an added benefit earned from the contractors’ choices, “Because they were exclusively using Sto, they were covered by one full warranty on the whole building.”

LUBRANO CIAVARRA Architects is rightfully proud of the finished product. The school is a bright, engaging, inviting place. According to Barkan, the flexibility and creativity that Sto allows was essential to the design’s success. “We spent a lot of time with the color palette, picking vibrant, uplifting colors,” explained Barkan.