The Pioneer Academy is a dazzling new school that sits proudly within its diverse neighborhood. The 97,000 square foot facility covers a long city block in the densely populated Elmhurst section of Queens. Reflecting the school’s setting and vital role in the community, the building’s innovative signature is its double height main lobby that features a bold and vividly colorful 24-foot tall mural entitled “Urban Intersections.” The installation, by artist Ross Lewis, is a vibrant celebration of city life – with five architectural niches that invite students to become a part of the artwork. Fantastical 3D elements such as a 16-foot wide metal boat and a 21-foot Tim Burton-esque pink building were taken directly from student’s drawings. The remainder of the 81-foot long wall is covered in 500,000 cartoon-colored glass and ceramic tiles. The main lobby also acts as a “street” where students, parents and teachers can gather before and after class. The primary and secondary entries anchor the lobby on opposite ends, providing through-block circulation. The interior thoroughfare bisects the building into two distinct blocks. The mass along one block and the elevated train platform is clad in dark brick and contains larger functions, like the cafeteria, auditorium and gymnasium. The other block features a bar-like wing along a residential street and is faced with a lighter brick and generous windows and contains rooms for instruction. An innovative use of scattered windows at varying heights and sizes pays tribute to the student body – reflecting the children’s differing heights, ages and perspective. Besides carefully crafted classrooms, the 650 students at Pioneer Academy have access to generous public amenities including a spacious cafeteria and a bright yet intimate auditorium that comfortably seats 300. Recognizing the school’s outstanding design, Mayor Bloomberg selected it as the venue for delivering his State of the City address to demonstrate the success of his efforts to build better schools.