Design For Sandy Hook School Continues To Unfold

A week after presenting the first designs for the new Sandy Hook Elementary School to members of the Public Building and Site Commission and the Board of Education, representatives of Svigals + Partners were back with more concepts on Wednesday, February 19.

Svigals + Partners representatives explained they had advancements to share on the concept of one of three schemes the company presented for the boards during the joint meeting on February 11.

At the February 11 meeting it was explained that from mid-October until mid-November representatives of Svigals + Partners met with community members during workshops and interviews. The Board of Education approved the educational specifications for the new Sandy Hook School in December.

Julia McFadden, an associate principal with Svigals + Partners and the project manager for the Sandy Hook School project, Alana Konefal, and Svigals + Partners company principal Barry Svigals each shared descriptions of three design schemes prepared for the site, during the February 11 meeting. The three schemes presented during the meeting were called Main Street, Courtyard, and Hybrid.

Public Building and Site Commission and Board of Education members responded most strongly to the Main Street scheme, using words like “elegant,” “efficient,” and “simple” to describe it.

“These are kind of the first thoughts and ideas of how the building might look,” Ms McFadden said on February 19.

She also shared that the website, www.sandyhook2016.com, which was created for the project in January, now shares a description of the site plan and each of the three scheme ideas.

Some changes have been added to the site plan since last week, according to Ms McFadden, including the concept of an emergency exit route from the parking lot. Board of Education and Public Building and Site Commission members brought up concerns about whether people would use the emergency route as spare parking, but Ms McFadden said the idea is to have it gated off.

“As you know, we are moving ahead with the Main Street scheme,” Ms McFadden said.

After descriptions of the three designs were shared, Ms Konefal showed some new ideas for the Main Street Scheme, like the concept of using the main hallway as a display area.

School board member John Vouros said the main hallway in the Main Street scheme looked very spacious. He also said it could display tapestries depicting Sandy Hook.

“It looks like a boulevard to me,” said Mr Vouros.

Ms McFadden later shared things Svigals + Partners are using as inspiration for the design of the school — like local buildings, the “natural environment” of Newtown and Sandy Hook, and steeples rising over hills and trees.

Mr Svigals also shared that different materials are being looked at to incorporate the metaphor of being outdoors within the school, like wood, stone, and brick.

With drawings projected behind him, Mr Svigals said sharing the concepts was like “inviting you into our messy studio.”

When students enter the school in the morning, Mr Svigals said it will be flooded with light, and there will be a sense of entering a forest. He also shared the idea of the school having an undulating façade and sections of the building being reflected on the outside by creating the appearance of different smaller buildings.

Mr Svigals said Wednesday’s presentation was “just an overview of where we are beginning, at least as far as the elevations are concerned.”

He also said Svigals + Partners will work with Consigli Construction to begin pricing out estimates.

Ms McFadden estimated Svigals + Partners will be back prior to completing the schematic design for the building in the next three weeks, and three weeks after that she said Consigli Construction should have cost estimates prepared.

According to the website for the project, construction of the building could begin as early as this summer.

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