educationalspaces

Schools Turn to DMR To Redesign Entryways to Address Identity and Security

Schools Turn to DMR To Redesign Entryways to Address Identity and Security 789 444 DMR Architects

Education boards in Carteret and Hackensack have recently turned to DMR to help solve the equation of how to make school front entryways more secure for students while still being a welcoming focal point for those visiting the building.

Hackensack High School is a 260,000 square foot facility that was previously using a nondescript walkway to a security door as its main entrance, while signage down the street misdirected people to the school’s annex.

“They needed something that said, ‘Here I am,’ and is a point of pride for students, parents, teachers and administrators,” said Donna Coen O’Gorman, AIA.  “When we create a new front entrance, we are giving a school and the neighborhood an identity, welcoming people into the building, improving safety and foot traffic patterns, and providing a preamble for what to expect inside the facility.”

The rewards of building esteem in the school community from visual impact are only the secondary benefit:  in a day when security threats are an unfortunate pre-occupation with administrators, the challenge of protecting teachers and students is a critical focus.

Plans for the new entrance on Beech Street include an 1,100 square foot portico, with backlit aluminum letters atop, new landscaping and an ADA accessible drop off.  The entrance will be ready for the 2022-23 school year and also includes bullet resistant glazing, closed circuit televisions, key card access, a secured vestibule and security lighting that have been seamlessly integrated into the overall design.

“It’s a mistake for school boards to assume that a building entrance upgrade is just modernizing doors and windows,” said Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA.  “It’s about aesthetics, security, and how buildings function in service to students, staff, and visitors, which requires experienced architects to make programming and design choices.”

Work on Carteret’s new state-of-the-art Junior High School started long before construction workers broke ground when DMR Architects created a design plan that integrated the already-existing High School on the same property through a pedestrian bridge connected to the new, 60,000 square foot school. With the new Junior High School opening this fall, exterior upgrades were also designed at the high school to distinguish its identity and increase security.

Also in Carteret, an exterior renovation to the Columbus Elementary School required identifying a new location for the main entrance and several programming changes, including moving the main office and creating a main entrance lobby.

“In the case of Carteret’s Columbus Elementary School, the main entrance needed to be located at a prominent location but also to a space where it would function more efficiently,” continues Donna Coen O’Gorman.  “We created a portico addition that would make a visual impact but also support the school’s programming.”

The entrance design will include controlled and secure access, a security office, bullet resistant glazing and bollards and will now be located next to the cafeteria, streamlining drop-off and pickup of early- and late-entrance and eliminating the need for visitors to walk through the school.

Working with Your Architect to Support the Next Generation of Creative Thinkers with Divergent Learning Spaces

Working with Your Architect to Support the Next Generation of Creative Thinkers with Divergent Learning Spaces 960 540 DMR Architects

By Donna Coen O’Gorman

Where STEM and STEAM curriculum were once offered as after-school clubs—and in whatever classroom space was available—that students with an already existing interest or aptitude in math and the sciences could opt into, more schools are now incorporating these education modes into regular classes and expanding the applications beyond science and math.

This shift in education practices requires a physical shift away from the traditional classroom layout with student desks lined in rows facing the teacher to flexible spaces and furniture, materials and spaces that can be incorporated into the lesson plan, and ever-advancing technologies that engage students and better support more forward-thinking practices.

DMR has been the go-to firm for nearly a quarter of all public school buildings in New Jersey since its inception in 1991—responsible for some of the state’s most advanced learning institutions and spaces—with a current roster that includes the new Junior High School in Carteret and several projects in Passaic at the Passaic Academy for Science and Engineering (P.A.S.E), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School No. 6 and Theodore Roosevelt School No. 10.

Building New

In Carteret, DMR’s plans applied the most forward-thinking divergent learning practices to the school district’s program curriculum and the State’s Department of Education Facility Efficient Standards with classrooms for traditional subjects with dedicated spaces for enhanced art and music education, a think tank, a flexible media center that will replace the library, a dance studio, and a STEM lab for the municipalities 600 seventh and eighth graders.  These plans satisfied the community’s need for adaptable spaces that could be easily updated as education practices and students’ needs continue to evolve.

“This Junior High School has been a long time coming, but previous attempts for community support failed, because plans only addressed one issue – overcrowding,” said Rosa Diaz, Superintendent of Schools in Carteret.  “The DMR team’s thoughtful application of knowledge regarding current learning environments and their ability to identify ways that a facility we build today can continue to adapt and support the best educational modalities to come, helped us present a funding referendum that everyone in Carteret could support.”

Our plans were used as background materials that led to the approval of the first new educational facility in Carteret in more than 40 years.

Working Within 

While DMR met Carteret’s needs with a new facility, in Passaic our plans at Passaic Academy for Science and Engineering (P.A.S.E) addressed practical concerns like how to maximize the functionality of an existing space, find adaptable furniture, and provide appropriate ventilation so that the school could expand its biomedical science program.  In this case, DMR’s decision to hang the utilities and the ventilation hood from the ceiling freed up space in the lab for furniture including an anatomage table, a highly sophisticated technology that will position its students on par or ahead of even some college and university pre-med programs.

DMR’s work in Passaic also includes the art studio at P.A.S.E that acts as a classroom and an art gallery for its students through moveable workstations, soft lighting and interactive exhibit areas.  We have also designed state-of-the-art auditoriums in its School No. 6 and School No. 10 and a data center in support of the data analytics program at P.A.S.E, complete with an interactive, LCD tile video wall to be used to teach digital signage technologies.

Looking Forward

The requests for alternative learning options have been growing for several years. In 2018, we completed the Frank J. Gargiulo Campus, where all aspects of the physical facility are incorporated into the learning experience and the building itself doubles as a teaching tool. Numerous architectural elements provide this level of education. Architectural and engineering students learn firsthand about building systems as infrastructure, such as mechanical lines and the school’s server room, are exposed. Students in the culinary program grow their own food in the hydroponic garden. The theatre is not simply a space for large school gatherings, but rather an intimate learning space with functions such as a control room and catwalk. Television production students coordinate the broadcasting of school news and events across academies.

We expect these requests to continue as divergent education spaces like these can prepare and create excitement for careers that are becoming more and more technical and students prove to be more prepared for the modern demands of higher education and the workforce. After location, the school system is the most important attribute that homebuyers look at; even people who don’t have children. Community leaders are wise to invest in creating learning environments that help current students stay competitive in a very crowded college environment.

School named for Plainfield civil rights activists breaks ground

School named for Plainfield civil rights activists breaks ground 789 444 DMR Architects

A new school, named in honor of civil rights activists who helped end segregation in Plainfield, is on its way.

On July 14 DMR joined the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (NJSDA) and project stakeholders to break ground on the new Charles and Anna Booker School.

The 120,000 SF school is designed to educate approximately 840 K-5 students. The new school will include 41 classrooms, an art room, a vocal/music room, an instrumental lesson room, a technology lab, a science demo room, a computer lab, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, a media center, a playground, and a basketball court.

In 1965, Charles Booker and his wife Anna won the legal case, Booker v. Board of Education of City of Plainfield, which ended segregation in Plainfield schools.

“Just as the Bookers were pioneers of civil rights, the NJSDA is at the forefront of providing education spaces that support innovative ideas from both teachers and students,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO.  “We are proud to be part of this project, which will certainly change the educational experience for Plainfield students.”

Under a design-build contact, DMR is working for the general contractor, Epic Management on the school, valued at $45 million. The facility is anticipated to open to students in September 2022.

 

 

 

 

Groundbreaking ceremony marks both the start of construction and naming of new elementary school in New Brunswick

Groundbreaking ceremony marks both the start of construction and naming of new elementary school in New Brunswick 789 444 DMR Architects

A May 12 groundbreaking ceremony marked both the start of the construction and naming of the new Blanquita B. Valenti Community School, named in honor the late pioneering freeholder in Middlesex County.

The state-of-the-art, K-8 school is being constructed on a now-vacant tract of land at 50 Jersey Avenue and will replace the former Lincoln Annex School. Plans call for the building to feature 3 stories and 127,000 square feet of learning space.

Working for the developer, New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), DMR designed the new building which will serve 900 students.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” said Chris Paladino, President of DEVCO. “It certainly helps when the village includes great teachers, committed administrators, loving parents, County leadership, a Mayor, a hospital chairman, and a president of the state’s largest healthcare system who appreciate and truly understand what the power of partnership is.”

“This is a pioneering educational facility providing spaces that support creativity and analytical thinking, skills that will elevate New Brunswick’s appeal for families with school-aged children and equip its students with expertise and knowledge that will be critical for entering higher education and the greater workforce,” said Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Design and Partner for DMR. “We designed the interior and exterior spaces with the understanding that all kids are unique, requiring and deserving a customized education formula to help them excel in school and in life.”

The ceremony also marked the unveiling of the name of the school in honor of the late Blanquita B. Valenti, an educator in central New Jersey for nearly 40 years. She was the first Latina to serve on the New Brunswick Board of Education, serving from 1971 to 1974. Her numerous other public capacities also included the New Brunswick City Council from 1990 to 2010 and the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders (now Commissioners) from 2005 until her retirement in 2019.

Through a collaborative development effort, the new Blanquita B. Valenti Community School will be built without taxpayer dollars and will allow for the construction of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Cancer Pavilion, a 500,000+ square foot, state-of-the-art cancer hospital, on the current Lincoln School Annex site at 165 Somerset St.

“If you don’t invest in the community and the people who live in the community in a culturally-competent way, if you don’t invest in education and business development, all the clinical programs in the world won’t make the community happier or healthier,” added Barry Ostrowsky, CEO of the RWJBarnabas Health System.

The Blanquita B. Valenti Community School is scheduled to open at the start of the 2023-24 school year.

Above, Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, Director of Design and Janet Pini, AIA, Project Manager at the May 12 event. 

Approved Energy Savings Improvement Plan for Hackensack BOE Will Fuel $12.5 million in Energy Savings Projects at All Facilities

Approved Energy Savings Improvement Plan for Hackensack BOE Will Fuel $12.5 million in Energy Savings Projects at All Facilities 960 540 DMR Architects

With the recent approval of a New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Energy Savings Improvement Plan (ESIP), the Hackensack Board of Education will begin energy improvement projects valued at $12.5 million, without utilizing its capital reserve or impacting taxpayers.

The proposed improvements will ultimately result in cost savings of nearly $11 million over the next 20 years and reduce Hackensack’s carbon footprint by 5,146,261 pounds of CO2 annually.

As architect of record for the district, DMR brought the ESIP program—designed to provide public entities a funding option for energy-related improvements using the value of the energy savings that result from the projects—to the BOE’s attention as a sustainable way to pay for the much-needed upgrades. Projects include:

  • HVAC upgrades at all schools including 53 classrooms at Hillers School and Hackensack Middle School, which will also receive ventilation upgrades;
  • Unit ventilators, steam traps, radiators, boilers, transformers, air handler and chiller replacements across facilities;
  • The replacement of more than 10,000 lighting fixtures with LEDs;
  • Solar panels on all buildings, a project that will save $206,000 annually;
  • Weatherization of all building envelopes;
  • Upgrading building controls to enterprise management systems

“This milestone is the next step forward in implementing important projects that will increase energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption and improve the educational experience for all students and staff,” said Hackensack Superintendent Robert Sanchez.

“The HVAC and window replacements are particularly timely as the board prioritizes ensuring that students, faculty and staff are returning to healthy buildings,” said Donna Coen O’Gorman, AIA, LEED Green Associate, Project Manager for DMR Architects.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the average American car emits about seven tons of CO2 a year.

“In essence, we are reducing carbon emissions similar to if we took nearly 370 cars off the road while also benefiting everyone in Hackensack but without costing anything to our taxpayers,” continues Mr. Sanchez.

Construction on the ESIP projects will begin in summer 2021 and continue through summer 2022.

In addition to management of the ESIP program, additional architect of record projects underway including: window replacements at Hillers School; restroom renovations at Jackson Avenue School and Fairmount Elementary School; elevator additions at Jackson Avenue School and Fairmount Elementary School; and a new portico at Hackensack High School.

Pictured above, solar panels at Hackensack High School. Photo courtesy of EZNERGY. 

Planning Board Approval is Next Step Forward for New Brunswick Jersey Ave. School

Planning Board Approval is Next Step Forward for New Brunswick Jersey Ave. School 960 540 DMR Architects

Following approval from the New Brunswick Planning Board on Feb. 8, the new Jersey Ave. School is heading toward construction. 

Working for Jersey Avenue School Redevelopment Associates LLC, an affiliate of the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), DMR designed the new school to serve the New Brunswick Board of Education. The approximately 127,000 square foot, $55 million school will serve approximately 900 students and more than 100 faculty and staff.

The project, slated to be completed in 2023, will serve grades K-8 and will replace the existing, 60-year-old Lincoln School Annex. The project will provide students with a state-of-the-art facility that addresses a variety of concerns with the aging Lincoln School Annex, such as  geographic proximity, overcrowding, a lack of critical programming spaces and inadequate parking. The new school will have a multi-purpose assembly room and playground, neither of which the current facility offers, as well as an expanded cafeteria, science demonstration rooms, media center and computer/technology labs, among other spaces.

Through a collaborative development effort, the new Jersey Ave. School will be built without taxpayer dollars and will allow for the construction of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Cancer Pavilion, a 500,000+ square foot, state-of-the-art cancer hospital, on the current Lincoln School Annex site at 165 Somerset St.

DMR has served the education sector for our entire history, working at a quarter of all public school buildings in New Jersey including some of the state’s most advanced learning institutions and spaces. Our current roster includes three other new construction schools including the Carteret Junior High SchoolWoodland Elementary School in Plainfield and the Joseph A. Taub School in Paterson. 

DMR’s Education Building Upgrades and Divergent Thinking Spaces are a Study in how NJ Education Practices Have Evolved Over past 30 Years

DMR’s Education Building Upgrades and Divergent Thinking Spaces are a Study in how NJ Education Practices Have Evolved Over past 30 Years 960 540 DMR Architects

DMR’s four current new school construction projects could be used as a lesson on how much education has changed from the student desks lined in rows facing the teacher of yore to current requests for flexible spaces and furniture, materials and spaces that can be incorporated into the lesson plan, and ever-advancing technologies.

DMR has worked in nearly a quarter of all public school buildings in New Jersey since its inception in 1991—responsible for some of the state’s most advanced learning institutions and spaces—with a current roster that includes the new Junior High School in Carteret that when completed will provide 24 classrooms for traditional subjects with dedicated spaces for enhanced art and music education, a think tank, and a STEM lab for the municipalities 600 seventh and eighth graders.  It is the first new school plans to be approved in that municipality in over 40 years.

“Educators have seen that the design elements supporting the more collaborative learning environments are effective in high schools and are now asking us to apply them to spaces for younger students as well,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO of DMR Architects.  “Additionally, where STEAM and STEM learning was once considered an opt-in club for kids with a knack for tinkering and creative thinking, it is now being incorporated into the everyday curriculums with classrooms intentionally designed to support them.

The collaborative spirit that happens in these divergent thinking environments and the use of technology that started in the science and math classrooms is now being applied to English and history classrooms as well.”

DMR also recently designed new schools for the New Jersey School Development Authority—a Middle School in Paterson and an Elementary School Plainfield—that are currently under construction to provide advanced learning options to these growing communities starting in September of 2021 and 2022 respectively.  The design of a new school in New Brunswick is also underway.

“We’re addressing technology needs throughout buildings now instead of just in a dedicated part of the library or a small media room,” continues Mr. Rosenberg.  “This trend will both continue and expand as pens and paper are more widely replaced by Chrome Books, Google Docs and promethean boards, and school administrators explore new ways to effectively implement remote learning options.”

DMR’s work includes Hudson County Schools of Technology-Frank J. Gargiulo Campus in Secaucus which has been open to students since 2018 designed so that all aspects of the physical facility are incorporated into the learning experience through the use of hydroponics, photometrics and locally sourced materials.

“As periodic upgrades to aging school buildings to support larger student populations come up, we will see more requests for alternative learning options,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO of DMR Architects.  “Right now is an ideal time for institutional upgrades because of the low interest rates.”

Other projects on DMR’s roster includes capital improvement projects which will continue in 2021 in Bayonne, Franklin, Hackensack and Passaic. DMR teams are also currently working on more than 40 education renovation projects in New York City.

DMR and Hackensack Board of Education Celebrate Conversion of Middle School Field into Multi-Purpose Turf

DMR and Hackensack Board of Education Celebrate Conversion of Middle School Field into Multi-Purpose Turf 789 444 DMR Architects

On Oct. 3, DMR Architects joined the Hackensack Board of Education to celebrate the reopening of the Middle School’s turf field.

The artificial field at Hackensack Middle School will be used for the middle school’s physical education classes and team practices during school hours, and will be available for the larger community to use the rest of the week.

“Safe, well-maintained, and welcoming outdoor spaces are essential to the wellbeing of our school community,” said Hackensack Superintendent Robert Sanchez.  “DMR guided us in the design to maximize field use and kept the project on track. We are looking forward to watching our students use this space once again.”

“Schools and their outdoor recreational spaces are vital components of thriving neighborhoods,” said Donna Coen O’Gorman, AIA, LEED Green Associate, and Project Manager for DMR Architects.  “We commend the Board of Education for prioritizing the revival of this space for the benefit of the entire Hackensack community.”

DMR managed the project on the 201 by 135-foot field which also includes new fencing and the installation of soccer barrier netting.

Governor Murphy Joins Carteret Education Leadership to Break Ground on Innovative DMR-Designed Junior High School

Governor Murphy Joins Carteret Education Leadership to Break Ground on Innovative DMR-Designed Junior High School 789 444 DMR Architects

Above: Former NJ Commissioner of Education and Current President of Kean University Lamont Repollet, Carteret Board of Education President Martin Murray, Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly Craig Coughlin, Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman, NJ Governor Phil Murphy, Carteret Superintendent Rosa Diaz, Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, and Gregg Stopa, AIA, Vice President and Partner at DMR Architects at the Sept. 29 groundbreaking. 

Governor Murphy was on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking of Carteret’s DMR Architects-designed junior high school that will support the municipality’s 21st Century educational practices and enhance the learning experience for all students.

State and local officials in attendance also included Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly Craig Coughlin, Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman, Superintendent of Carteret Public Schools Rosa Diaz, and President of the Carteret Board of Education Martin Murray.

Plans for the 60,000 square foot school include 24 classrooms for traditional subjects with dedicated spaces for enhanced art and music education, a think tank, and a STEM lab for 600 seventh and eighth graders.

“Carteret continues to move into the future with vast improvements to our schools,” said Daniel Reiman, Mayor of Carteret.  “The new Junior High School will provide a greater environment for our children to learn and will increase property value, helping to make Carteret an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

“Studies show that students exposed to the arts and innovative sciences like coding generally perform better in school,” said Rosa Diaz, Superintendent for Carteret’s school system that educates 4,000 students.  “The new school is much more than a brick and mortar building. It is a major step that will bring us closer to becoming the premier school district I know we were destined to be.”

“Carteret is making an investment in its students’ futures by providing them with educational spaces beyond traditional subjects,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, President and CEO of DMR Architects.  “We’re being asked to create ‘maker’ and ‘FAB’ and other alternative learning spaces that allow kids to explore, learn and tinker, and secure critical thinking skills that will benefit them in high school and beyond.”

The new Junior High School is part of a $37 million referendum passed in September 2019.  Also as part of the referendum, DMR is completing renovations to the district’s five existing schools, with projects including upgrades to the high school auditorium and bathroom, HVAC, and stair tower upgrades across multiple schools.  

Once completed, the new junior high school will allow for a reassignment and realignment that would result in the three existing elementary schools serving pre-K-fourth grade; the existing middle school serving grades five and six; the new junior high school serving grades seven and eight; and the existing high school serving grades nine-12. In addition to addressing overcrowding, the construction of the new school will open up space to provide full-day kindergarten and additional pre-K programs.

The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022. 

DMR’s Culture of Collegiality and Use of Technology Keep 150 Projects Valued at Nearly $1 Billion in Construction on Track During Pandemic

DMR’s Culture of Collegiality and Use of Technology Keep 150 Projects Valued at Nearly $1 Billion in Construction on Track During Pandemic 789 444 DMR Architects

Despite the challenges we are all facing due to COVID-19, today we are happy to share some good news: nearly all of the 150 projects that make up our nearly $1 billion pipeline have remained actively under development or construction throughout the pandemic.

These projects include significant progress in projects across all sectors. Construction is near completion on The Residences at 30 Court, a luxury apartment building in Morristown and the design of Wyndham Place at Ridgefield Park is underway, bringing our rental unit count to 4,500. The DMR team is also currently working at 80 schools, including renovation projects at 44 facilities in New York City, and new schools in Carteret, Plainfield, and Paterson in New Jersey. Our team also continues to marry functionality and aesthetics at public facilities throughout New Jersey and is currently working on municipal building projects for Monmouth County and the municipalities of Montgomery, Ridgefield, and Red Bank. DMR’s municipal planning team is now working as the municipal planner in Dunellen and Roselle.

“I’m very proud that across all our practice areas we’ve maintained our culture of collaboration despite our staff being physically separated by shelter-in-place directives,” Lloyd Rosenberg, President and CEO, said.  “Each of our team members are trained in the most innovative planning and communication tools available, and take personal pride in each project to ensure that the long-term goals of our clients are met in the same way they would without a quarantine and its complications.”