Connecticut Building Congress Awards Svigals + Partners for STEM School

By Roxanne Squires

NEW HAVEN, Conn. –– The Connecticut Building Congress (CBC) recognized the nationally renowned architecture, art and advisory firm Svigals + Partners of New Haven by awarding the firm for two of its projects based on team partnership and collaboration ––  one of which was a STEM school. The double CBC honors was presented at the organization’s 2018 Annual Project Team Awards Banquet on June 12 for “outstanding collaborative efforts” of the project teams, including the owner group, designers, construction firms and other participants.

The first-place award went to Svigals + Partners for its work on the Engineering and Science University Magnet School (ESUMS), a school that opened in 2017 and has become recognized as “an innovative makerspace campus” for grades 6-12. Gilbane Building Company of Providence, R.I., joined in as the construction manager partner, along with the client group that included the University of New Haven and the New Haven Board of Education. The unique collaboration resulted in a contemporary and advanced learning environment by consulting stakeholder groups, while even allowing students from the school to participate in the process through their Kids Build! Program, which helped them better understand the components of the building as it was being designed. Many of the ESUMS workshops, classrooms and lab rooms are enclosed with operable glass partitions, creating bright and inspiring learning spaces that can be opened up to adjacent hallways for larger informal gatherings and team-based work.

“This unique collaboration with the university and the school board has resulted in a state-of-the-art learning environment that affords greater access to educational resources for the more than 600 students it serves,” said Julia McFadden, AIA, associate principal with Svigals + Partners, in a statement. “Our team worked closely with multiple stakeholder groups to achieve ambitious results — a construction project emblematic of the New Haven Board of Education’s commitment to the community and to superior education.”

Creating flexible and accommodating classrooms was a key component of the design, with glass dividers opening up into hallway learning spaces that widen on each end, offering a space where ESUMS students can study or work together on comfortable chairs and couches. The engineering laboratories are equipped for innovative STEM education while offering views to the University of New Haven campus, with the idea of providing inspiration to the students’ pursuit of a continued education. The building is designed to join prototyping technology with CLABs located throughout the school with a central makerspace accessible in the heart of the building.

The five-story facility offers boundless access to educational resources for their 600-student body, and a first-hand learning representation for STEM education, featuring state-of-the-art labs, computer and 3-D printers. Svigals + Partners designed ESUMS to match the school’s rigorous science and technology curriculum while also incorporating a special focus on integrating arts education. The out-stretched, cantilevered wings are made up of high-performance glass and louvered blinds to help regulate solar heat gain. The exterior also includes sculptures bearing the faces of inventors and scientists from the area, including Eli Whitney and A.C. Gilbert. The design element was specifically tailored with the ESUMS curriculum in mind, which encourages proficiency in self-discipline, critical-thinking, open-mindedness, risk-taking and creative problem solving.

“ESUMS is a wonderful example of what can take place when local municipalities, the state and higher education collaborate to create a school that is the first of its kind in Connecticut. This innovative school will enable generations of students to become tomorrow’s leaders in a wide array of scientific and technological fields, and it will directly benefit the citizens of our region, our state and our nation.” said Steven H. Kaplan, the president of the University of New Haven, in a statement.