From by Sophia Hollander:
Like the rise of the nouveau riche, the dazzling state-of-the-art buildings touted by New York's newest schools can be viewed askance by some of the centuries-old institutions that rule the city's private-school scene.

Their modest—to put it politely—facilities are badges of honor, their reputations rooted in intellect and character, they say, not cutting-edge cafeterias.

So when Collegiate School—an all-boys K-12 institution on the Upper West Side that has been in its current location since 1892—announced this year it would move to a brand-new building in the same neighborhood, the reaction was, perhaps, predictable: apprehension.

School officials gave the architects simple instructions: Make it nice, but not too nice.

"There is this pride in how limited the facilities are," said headmaster Lee Levison. "That we can have this kind of building yet generate some of the most creative and thoughtful and talented high school graduates in the country. It wasn't a function of having a shiny new building."

There was also visible history in scuffed stairs, aging wall murals, and scratched desks. After learning that some of its space would be taken back by its landlord, the school initially wanted to simply renovate. But practical issues couldn't be ignored. There were deferred maintenance costs, such as a limited sprinkler system. There was no air conditioning in classrooms. Space was already so tight that one teacher had an office in a closet and students were forced to work in hallways—not because it was trendy, but because there was nowhere else to go. English classes met in biology labs and teachers sometimes scuttled between four different classrooms—on four different floors.

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