New Jersey High School Wraps Unique Redesign

By Eric Althoff

WARREN, N.J.—Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., which has offices in both New Jersey and neighboring Pennsylvania, has completed redesign work on the Watchung Hills Regional High School Media Center in Warren, successfully converting it to a state-of-the-art learning commons.

As designed by Spiezle, the Learning Commons will be the new heart of the school, as well as a centralized location for students, faculty, community, and educators to engage with one another. This model was specifically envisioned to mirror a college campus, where the walls between students and staff that exist at the high school and middle school levels are not so pronounced.

The space as envisioned by Spiezle’s professionals include such anodyne features as classrooms and spaces for self-guided instruction. But to make the space more in tune with modern necessities, it will also feature the latest in technological educational amenities. These include a TV studio, virtual reality laboratory and a podcast space. Additional resources include 3D printers, a “quiet space” and a modern cafeteria that will also double as a learning environment for students in the school’s culinary arts classes.

Furthermore, the walls and furniture are moveable depending on the spatial needs of the annex at any given time for various events.

“The project has been a great success and created some amazing spaces for our students,” Elizabeth C. Jewett, superintendent of the Watchung Hills Regional High School District, said in a recent statement. “We began with a vision, and the result is even better than expected. From the layout to the furniture to the colors, it all looks great.”

Added Timothy Stys, business administrator of the Watchung Hills Regional High School District: “It was a truly collaborative effort by all involved with creative financing that resulted in a net-zero impact to taxpayers. Spiezle listened to everything we were trying to achieve in that space and successfully incorporated all aspects of our requirements.”

Spiezle worked on this unique educational project with general contractor Apex Enterprises of Union, Inc. The GC is also located in New Jersey.

“Partnering with the Watchung Hills Regional High School District to create a refreshed, inspired learning space has been an honor,” Steven Siegel, principal of Spiezle, said of his firm’s work on the school. “Education is one of our core markets, and we are happy to construe our thoughts and incorporate trends to design and build impactful spaces.”

Spiezle is an employee-owned architectural, interior design, landscape architecture and planning firm founded in 1954. The company has worked on other education projects in the Garden State for such clients as the Egg Harbor Township Board of Education, South Branch Township Board of Education and Woodbridge Township Board of Education.

Watchung Hills Regional High School hosts students from nearby communities including Green Brook, Long Hill, Warren and Watchung.

“This space and project have been a huge success, and we know this new environment will help students and faculty thrive for years to come,” said Spiezle’s Siegel.