Unique New Special Needs School Moves Ahead in Charlotte

By Eric Althoff

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Human services provider Melmark is partnering with architect Ossa Design Studio and general contractor Swinerton Builders on a new school in North Carolina’s largest city. The new Melmark school will be a boon for local families whose children require more focused educational services and special education teachers.

The 31,000-square-foot structure will be purpose-built for ADA compliance for its 14 classrooms. Additional spaces in the new building will include clinical support areas, a lunchroom, as well as offices devoted specifically to professional development and training according to the Melmark paradigm.

Melmark’s program entails accommodating students on the autism spectrum as well as those with other special needs, including those who have endured brain injuries. The program works with those aged five to 22 who require extra care and more personalized, hands-on learning experiences.

“There is a steady, growing need for our services and this new school building will support spacious, well-designed classroom environments with innovative tools for learning and skills building,” Rita M. Gardner, Melmark president and CEO, said at the groundbreaking. “This growth in North Carolina reflects our mission and strategic goal to serve children in diverse and inclusive communities who need and deserve Melmark’s specialized special education services to reach their best outcomes.”

Swinerton, founded in 1888, is an employee-owned firm headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area’s East Bay. They also have offices in Raleigh, Atlanta, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Dallas and San Diego.