N.J. School, Architect Collaborate on STEM Center

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. — Dwight-Englewood School officials broke ground June 3 on the new Hajjar STEM Center building. The $20 million facility is key component of the school’s master plan, and will integrate its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum.

An independent college-preparatory school for students from pre-K through 12th grade, the Dwight-Englewood School maintains an enrollment of approximately 900 students. To offer these students top quality STEM-based education, the Hajjar STEM Center will house eight new labs and seven classrooms for physics, biology, chemistry, robotics, and mathematics. The approximately 27,000 square foot building will also be home to the STEM faculty, a student greenhouse and a flexible school gathering space/robotics workspace.

“The growing global focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has created an urgent need to prepare our children, our future leaders, to become innovators in these STEM fields and to learn the way of thinking that engaged study with STEM accomplish,” Head of School Dr. Rodney V. De Jarnett said in an address at the groundbreaking. “Our School’s belief that we must educate our children to ‘meet the challenges of a changing world and make it better’ remains the driving force behind this vision.”

The facility was designed by international architecture firm Gensler, which also completed projects such as St. Phillip’s Academy in Newark, N.J. and the D’Angelo Center at St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. However, the design process was highly collaborative, involving Gensler architects and numerous members of the Dwight-Englewood School community.

According to an article on the project by Gensler education practice area leader Mark Thaler, the team met with educators to discuss their curricula and to understand how their facilities supported academic approaches, then designed the building with an emphasis on how specific areas would interact with each other. De Jarnett and a group of key stakeholders also visited more than a dozen STEM facilities throughout the region to glean design inspiration.

International construction firm Gilbane Building Company was selected to serve as the project’s construction manager, and expects to completion the new facility by the fall of 2015.

“We’re thrilled to create this unique, innovative learning environment for students that will restructure the school’s math and science curriculum,” said Ed Stevenson, Gilbane’s senior project executive, in a release. “We’ll work to ensure the STEM Building is a great source of pride for the Dwight-Englewood community for years to come.”