Nearly four years after tragedy struck at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the school will reopen in a new building with a fresh design that is well lit, open, environmentally friendly, safe, and responsive to the needs of its students and the surrounding community.
The $50 million, 86,000-square-foot replacement was built on the same property of the previous building, but not in the footprint where the school once stood (the original Sandy Hook structure was demolished in 2013). All that remains are two large concrete slabs containing dinosaur footprints that sat outside the old building.
Svigals + Partners conceptualized and carried out the school’s refreshed design. With the community’s needs in mind, in their planning and development stages the firm’s architects and engineers hosted seven workshops including “Kids Build” sessions with the students. Their drawings are on flags that line Sandy Hook’s driveway.
The school now includes three courtyards, study spaces designed to look like treehouses, and a moat-like raingarden. Heightened security measures have been implemented at the new Sandy Hook location, which welcomed students for the 2016-17 school year on Aug. 29, though it opened for media and public viewing in late July. Visitors must go through a driveway gate with a video intercom, across the raingarden, and pass two police officers and a video monitoring system to get inside. The school’s ground floor is elevated, making it harder to see inside classrooms from outside the building. All windows and doors are bulletproof.
While there are no noticeable memorials at the new Sandy Hook, school officials say the entire project was carried out with victims of Dec. 14, 2012 in mind.