Primary School Expansion
Montclair Kimberley Academy | Montclair, NJ
Montclair Kimberley Academy’s Primary School, which serves grades Pre-K through 3, sought a large space where the students could come together as a whole. This “cafetorium” would serve as a 400-seat assembly hall, breaking down into a 150-person performance space and a 100-student cafeteria, by a large moveable partition.
VMA established a stage with a traditional proscenium, but a larger thrust. Height was carefully considered for young students so it was low enough to feel safe and connected but high enough to be seen and heard. Since the space has a flat floor, instead of the sloped or “raked” floor found in a traditional auditorium, it can be used for activities like dance class, indoor play, parent orientation, and even social events. The student dining furniture is lightweight and stackable so that it can be easily moved or reconfigured. The old kitchen, along the main academic corridor, was converted to a classroom while a new commercial kitchen better supports the dining area.
Through the site design, VMA improved student safety by reconfiguring circulation to better accommodate buses, cars, and pedestrians at pick-up/drop off. Reorganized parking enhanced the view of the surrounding neighborhood. Moving the Admissions suite to the front of the building allowed for a new centralized check-in area with a gallery to showcase student artwork. Child-scaled benches placed along the corridor lead directly to a covered porch where students may queue for rides. Lastly, a playground now holds pride of place at this new entry to the school.
Size: 12,000 sf
Budget: $7.2 million
Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape