New Educational Facility
How to gracefully translate nature’s inspiration of rugged glacier-formed boulders and birch woodlands into built space? How to pull apart solid program to create transparency and a place within these forms? The design of a new home for Gottesman RTW Academy of Morris County astutely answers these questions and elevates the Academy to new heights—ensuring that its facilities are aligned with its well-regarded educational programs.
Formerly situated on a lower elevation, the new Academy is now sited on the highest point of the hill-top. The Academy’s building wings are masterfully arranged to resemble the surrounding bedrock masses that glaciers once formed. Cement board panels clad exteriors of those protected learning spaces, their size and pattern emulating the stone walls of Jerusalem. Thin wooden slats are layered on the façade of the common spaces, continuing the conversation of filtered light through the solids and transparencies in nature. Indeed, from several perspectives inside, you can see an uncompromised view that connects the outside with the inside, where vertical elements continue to echo the image of the surrounding trees.
Nature further transcends boundaries in the form of a kosher teaching kitchen and vegetable garden which provide both food for meals and food for thought. At the main entry of the school, an aromatic garden adjacent to the east-facing sanctuary grows herbs to be used in traditional Judaic ceremonies. With careful consideration and intuitive incorporation, the Academy resonates with many cultural, spiritual, and religious references.
The exploration of solid and transparent. Mass and void. Nature and nurture. The Gottesman RTW Academy of Morris County both translates and emulates its environs—built on bedrock, a tough and unrelenting material formed by nature thousands of years ago, and surrounded by birch trees swaying in the wind, bending but rarely breaking. This space recognizes the perfect foundation for the rebuilt Academy. This place, designed through collaborative partnership, imaginative thinking, and insightful touches, realizes a perfect elevation for the Gottesman RTW Academy of Morris County.