Located in a distressed historic neighborhood on a former commercial site, the LEAP Academy STEM Charter School in downtown Camden, N.J., is an important facility for this growing charter school organization. Context-sensitive urban design and integration of the latest building technologies and sustainable practices have allowed this facility to become CAPACITY590COST PER SQ FT$186.00FEATURED IN2014 Architectural Portfolio exciting, real-world laboratory for learning for an underserved student population.
Working closely with LEAP, Kitchen & Associates successfully integrated the adaptive reuse of an existing historic mansion façade into their design for the new school. Accommodating 590 students in approximately 51,000 square feet of space, the finished facility simultaneously incorporates programs for pre-K, grades K-3, and grades 9-12 into discrete learning environments within the overall building, while establishing a strong connection with the surrounding community.
At the heart of the design approach, classrooms and science/technology laboratories have been combined in order to foster a more collaborative teaching and learning environment—one that is both flexible and dynamic for students and teachers alike. Supporting these learning spaces, a media center and library offer the students the latest in information technology, while a modern “fab lab” and computer-aided design classroom provide cutting edge training in hardware and software.
The building also boasts a state-of-the-art 100-seat lecture hall outfitted with modern computer and A/V capabilities. This will be shared between LEAP and neighboring Rutgers University, creating opportunities to connect, relate and cross-pollinate between high-school students, college students, and instructors. Light-filled study lounges at focal locations throughout the building feature informal, soft furnishings that help facilitate interactions between students and faculty in a casual and comfortable setting.