Municipal and school district officials in Woodbridge recently marked the groundbreaking for $50 million worth of construction in the township. — Courtesy: LAN Associates
By Joshua Burd
A design team from LAN Associates was on hand recently to break ground on $50 million worth of construction in Woodbridge, including a new elementary school and a sweeping renovation of an existing middle school.
The work includes the development of a new Ross Street Elementary School #11 in the township, a $30 million project, and $20 million in improvements to Woodbridge Middle School. LAN, which oversaw the design, said the projects will create innovative learning environments and adaptations to help educators boost student collaboration and ideas.
To that end, the design team sought to utilize natural light in the building and is promoting the so-called maker space approach to educational designs.
“Every project is a team effort; not just internally, but from town officials as well as those in the industry we work in, so we have to thank everyone who helped make these projects happen,” said Ken Karle, president of LAN Associates, which is based in Midland Park. “Our team of architects and engineers worked hand-in-hand; putting together a truly remarkable design that this community can be proud of for years to come.”
Karle joined township and school district officials in mid-June for the groundbreaking ceremony. The projects are being funded via a public referendum that was overwhelmingly approved by township voters in March 2017.
Mayor John McCormac and Dr. Robert Zega, the Woodbridge superintendent, noted that Ross Street Elementary School was built in 1920. The new three-story, 87,000-square-foot school will be anchored by a large atrium courtyard, providing natural light and a connection to nature.
According to a news release, the courtyard will also house a small amphitheater for outdoor lessons, several “living learning” gardens and seating areas for reading and eating. Other features will include break-out spaces and flexible learning environments for a variety of learning styles, plus state-of-the-art photovoltaics combined with daylighting strategies to reduce overall energy consumption.
The new Ross Street School is slated for completion ahead of the 2020 school year.
“No society loses when students are provided with the avenues to develop and grow in an innovative environment that feels safe, comfortable, and supportive,” McCormac said. “The faculty and staff in our school district are the best at what they do, which is why they deserve the best environment to perfect their craft.
“We are very excited for this and we want to thank LAN for their commitment to a transparent approach all the way through.”
The district is renovating Woodbridge Middle School, which was built in 1910, to create a more advanced learning environment and improve a performing arts space within the building. The project incorporates a design scheme that utilizes the existing structures and includes construction of a new gymnasium and locker rooms, large musical and vocal classrooms, six new science rooms, a Creative Commons, state-of-the-art production studio and renovated classrooms.
LAN said the renovations are expected to be complete for the 2019 school year.
“Our goal is to create students who are lifelong learners, and it starts in an environment that fits their learning style,” Zega said. “By providing an environment that is engaging, interactive and new, our teachers can play to the strengths of students’ learning style and make learning, well, fun.”