Uncommon Schools

North Star Academy 377 Washington

Newark, NJ

Project Details


What was once a parking lot in Newark, NJ now houses a 165,000-square-foot K-12 school for more than 1,600 students across six activity-filled floors. Through mindful planning, the design imbues this  North Star Academy location with its own identity.

Rooted in the unique nature of personal growth, the school’s interiors are united through an abstracted tree metaphor—a visual manifestation of natural growth from roots, trunks, foliage, and leaves spanning across multiple floors as students graduate from grade to grade. 

This project features two gymnasiums, two cafeterias, and two performance art rooms that serve as stages for the gymnasiums. The high school and combined middle and elementary schools each have their own dedicated drop-off and entrance areas to their respective gymnasium and cafeteria. The complex stacking of classrooms, gymnasiums and cafeterias benefits from highly specialized engineering and daylighting analysis to promote student wellness. 

Directly adjacent and connected to the new school is an existing parking garage with a re-clad exterior, and a rooftop play area with two basketball courts. Located in an ideal “bridge” position straddling the city and nearby residential neighborhoods, the former parking lot at 377 Washington has been transformed in its physicality–and in its power–to provide education, self-confidence and inspiration for the future to Newark students.

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