Newtown, Connecticut opens new Sandy Hook Elementary School four years after a mass shooting in the town shook the country. The design of the new school was created with input from security experts, community members, first responders, teachers and parents. Architects from Svigals + Partners and the Consigli Construction Company completed the building in 2015.
The 86,000 square-foot building, bears no resemblance to the old building where the tragedy took place.
The new $50 million school includes innovative security features, such as state-of-the-art video monitoring. All classroom doors are 350 pound stainless steel, painted to look like wood, and automatically lock from the outside. All windows are bulletproof. And there is also a buzzer system installed in the front entrance that requires visitors to pass through two sets of doors.
The grounds have been landscaped to ensure anyone approaching the school is visible to those inside and can enter via one of three pedestrian bridges that cross the landscaping. As well as three courtyards, study spaces designed to look like treehouses and a moat-like raingarden.
“The space is beautiful. The children are very excited for their new school,” Sandy Hook Principal Kathy Gombos told the Los Angeles Times. “The adult reactions are a little bit less because they have a sense of why we are here. You can’t stand in this space without thinking about the 26 people who lost their lives.”
When it comes to education, it is essential for students to have a safe but welcoming environment, in which to grow. Schools have long struggled with finding the right balance in creating this learning environment. The challenge is in maintaining the flow of day-to-day academic activities while still protecting students against unauthorized entry and access to the facilities. The tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school served as a sobering reminder of the importance of safeguarding our schools against such dangers.