Exploring Ways Building Community is at the Heart of Design
This year reflected SSP Architects’ commitment to being community builders at heart. Whether it’s creating uplifting spaces in educational and healthcare facilities, preserving our state’s living history through design, building inviting civic spaces, or bolstering our mission to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in our built work and staffing, SSP’s team always strives to design sustainable, innovative, and practical spaces that empower people and enhance neighborhoods.
Today’s focus is on DESIGNING TRANSFORMATIVE EDUCATIONAL SPACES:
As one of New Jersey’s leading PK-12 education architects, SSP’s vast experience in this area came to the fore in 2023 as school districts were anxious to move forward with building and renovation projects put on hold during the pandemic period. It was rewarding to work with schools to help them achieve a holistic range of goals – life safety, physical health, mental health, quality learning, and more. It’s been meaningful to help them achieve these goals across a myriad of spaces – like classrooms, hallways, dining areas, sports fields, arts, and theater spaces, and more.
Major PK-12 education projects we moved forward in 2023 were:
- Beginning a new 2-story addition to the David Brearley Middle/High School in Kenilworth, NJ. The construction, which includes a 2-story link connector between the existing building and the addition, will open space for new science labs, general classrooms, and an Administrative Office area. An Athletic Lobby addition will be totally accessible to all students of all physical abilities via an outdoor ramp. Students will also benefit from upgrades of existing classrooms, the Auditorium, and surrounding sports fields.
- Designing a new Center for Sustainability and Innovation for the Middlesex County Magnet Schools (MCMS) that advances the school’s efforts to provide students with the highest-level skillsets that prepares them for careers in fields such as supply chain management, logistics, and IT management. The proposed new building, sharing the campus of the existing East Brunswick vocational school, consists of classroom space, vocational shops, and cross-content collaboration zones. Working through the program of the building, the SSP team honored and advanced the MCMS success model for real world application with a facility that supports classroom education side-by-side with real-world, hands-on experience.
- Providing a facilities master plan for the Young Living Academy in Ecuador. We look forward to seeing this plan put into action to fulfill the Academy’s vision as a unique place of interconnected living systems with a focused mission on “Building the Future Leaders of Ecuador.”
- Easing the overcrowding challenges facing Edison High School – building 10 new classrooms, four offices, an expanded orchestra room while upgrading the existing front entry, cafeteria, and bathrooms. This is part of an on-going SSP-Edison Board of Education partnership – begun with a master plan that formed the basis for a Long-Range Facilities Plan prioritizing facility upgrades and new construction for years to come.
Other significant school projects taking place in 2023 include significant upgrades at the Robert Treat Academy Charter School in Newark, being named the bridge architect for the new Newark University High School, partnering with Catcord Construction on a joint Design-Build project to provide the Haworth Public School with additions and renovations that enhance the school’s educational programs, and fulfilling our firm’s long-term master plan with the East Windsor Regional School District to upgrade its facilities on a multi-year basis.
SSP looks forward to building on these successes in 2024. We will continue our work to create buildings and spaces where communities can thrive. Our team will always keep in mind that as community architects, the buildings, and spaces we design are part of the bigger story – one that elevates people, helps them better interact with each other, and creates a more sustainable, healthier, and inspiring built environment.
This is part of a series of blogs focusing on SSP’s architectural designs and team members that made an impact in 2023. This blog focuses on SSP’s achievements in creating state-of-the-art educational space designs that advance student learning, achievement, and wellness.