Located in the University Heights district of Newark, NJ, University Heights Charter School was seeking to expand its facilities from grades K-5 through to grade 8. University Heights Charter School teamed up with the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund and KSS Architects to find the right space to create a home for their second school facility. After evaluating a variety of spaces in Newark with guidance from KSS, University Heights chose a unique location. A former 4-story manufacturing facility constructed around the turn of the century as a button manufacturer that was most recently home to offices and storage, the 18,500-square-foot building was across Hartford Street from University Heights Charter School’s existing school.
KSS’s design balances the preservation of historic elements of the building to retain its unique character, with modernizing and upgrading the facility to enable University Heights Charter School to develop in each student the character, scholarship, and leadership to succeed in life, college, and the community. The existing building was enlarged with a 16,000-sf addition containing a multipurpose room and blended learning classroom space. The existing building’s exposed heavy timber wood structure was preserved and highlighted, while upgrades including new windows, roof, and façade repair and repointing prepared the structure for the next 100 years. The addition is constructed of a brick classroom bar to complement the original structure and a translucent panel volume that houses the multipurpose room as a counterpoint to the traditional materials. A new turf play area provides an outdoor recreation area that can be shared by both schools.