Succeed in College and Change History

KSS Architects Supports School’s Mission by Creating Permanent Home in Newark

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Newark on June 10 to celebrate the grand re-opening of the North Star Academy’s Vailsburg Elementary and Middle Schools.  The project represents the strong partnership between Uncommon Schools, the North Star Academy Charter School, KSS Architects and the construction management firm DBI.  School leaders, teachers, students, project partners and donors attended the celebration.  Facility tours were led immediately following the ceremony.  

Having previously leased the Vailsburg site from the Arch Diocese of Newark, North Star Academy Charter Schools reveled in the opportunity to purchase the property, when presented with the option, and moved forward to renovate the schools to their highest potential.  

The project called to bring the existing, ailing structure up-to-date, and to transform the tired building into an efficient and inspiring learning environment.  The 80,000 sf renovation encompassed 30 classrooms, administrative offices, a music room, and a teacher prep room.  Additionally, the demolition of the adjacent former convent made way for a new 9,000 sf gymnasium, built to accommodate 600 occupants, a middle-school regulation basketball court, gym equipment, a temporary stage, and storage.  

“We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Uncommon Schools, the North Star Academy and DBI,” comments Merilee Meacock, Partner, KSS Architects.  ”The addition of the gymnasium is particularly gratifying - it enables the elementary and middle schoold to come together in one space, as one entity.  Beyond basketball, the flexible, mixed-use space serves as a resource to both the school and the local community”.  The new addition also provides the school with a presence on Sanford Avenue, the main thoroughfare of Vailsburg.  

The Uncommon Schools network prepares students to enter, succeed in and graduate from college, inspiring their message, and mission, “… to Change History”.  The Vailsburg neighborhood of Newark is well-known for its strong sense of community, and actively partners with students and staff to make North Star Academy Charter School one of the highest-preforming public schools in New Jersey.  100% of high school graduates have been accepted to 4- year colleges.  

About KSS

KSS Architects LLP is an award-winning architectural design firm with offices in Princeton, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.  Founded in 1983, KSS specializes in the design and planning of places for learning, commerce and community.  THe firm brings to each project the unique ability to create meaningful change through architecture and has beeen names AIA New Jersey’s Firm of the Year in 2002, 2005, 2009, and 2013.  

KSS Delivers a diverse breadth of work that includes a precedent-setting distribution center for Coca-Cola, the “workplace as a marketplace” corporate headquarters for Burlington Coat Factory, a research institure to reposition consortium of Teachers Village, and a leading edge learning and residential campus for Bancroft, the non-profit helping those with disabilities lead independent and fulfilling lives.  


Beth Sherby

Marketing Manager

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