January 19, 2023 was a special day for the South Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven. Hundreds of students, families, teachers, and advocates joined together to officially open 20 Bruckner—a new, state-of-the-art school building that will serve 1,300 Pre-K through 12th grade DREAM Charter School students and offer post-secondary services on-site to a growing alumni community.
Originally founded as Harlem RBI, DREAM traces its beginnings to 1991, when a group of volunteers transformed an abandoned, garbage-strewn lot into two baseball diamonds for the youth of East Harlem. More than 30 years later, the organization serves thousands of children across East Harlem and the South Bronx through a network of free, extended-day, extended-year DREAM Charter Schools and community sports-based youth development programs. By developing a whole child model that is responsive to the unique academic and social needs of every child, DREAM is creating a future where all children are equipped to fulfill their vision of success.
“We like to dream big, and it’s hard to imagine dreaming much bigger than 20 Bruckner,” said Richard Berlin, DREAM co-Chief Executive Officer and National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Board Member. “After all, an investment in a school is an investment in every child who will ever walk through its doors. And when we invest in all our kids as early and deeply as possible—the same way we invest in kids from our most affluent neighborhoods—that’s when we make transformative, generational change.”
The new building was designed by world-renowned Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye, who led the design of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The six-story facility combines DREAM Mott Haven Elementary and Middle Schools and DREAM Charter High School under one roof and includes a state-of-the-art gym with a regulation-size basketball court; a cathedral-style, light-filled library space; STEAM quad featuring specialty classrooms and laboratories; double-height arts wing with built spatial flexibility; and a rooftop that will function as an outdoor classroom, play space, and garden. Bronx graffiti legends Tats Cru have created a large-scale mural on the third floor depicting DREAM’s organizational history, with more local artists to be confirmed for building-wide art activations. Multiple classrooms and other shared spaces feature sweeping views of the Harlem River and the Manhattan skyline.
“The new DREAM Charter School at 20 Bruckner is an incredible opportunity to do something that all cities should be doing, which is radically reuse its industrial heritage or its past, and not to tear down buildings but to reimagine them as new pieces of infrastructure for new generations,” said Sir David Adjaye. “We took this project on because our mission aligned with DREAM and we were deeply inspired by their approach to education and community building.”