The proposal calls for the $50 million Sandy Hook Elementary
School building in the suburb to be set on a hill, farther from
roads and parking lots than its predecessor, to improve security
without creating a fortress-like environment, architects told a
school commission on Tuesday evening.
"Children are not unlike plants, they need light and they need
nature," Barry Svigals, an architect from Svigals & Partners, of New
The two-story, 100,000-square-foot (9,290-square-metre) building
will go up on the same property, but not the exact site, where the
massacre occurred. Former Sandy Hook student Adam Lanza, 20, fatally
shot 20 young pupils and six adults before turning his gun on
himself on December 14, 2012. The shootings revived the long-running
national debate over guns in the United States.
"To enhance safety and create a cozy, secure environment the new
school will be further back in the woods with buffer areas between
cars and classrooms with lots of light and trees right outside,"
Robert Mitchell, chairman of the town's Public Building and Site
Commission, said in a phone interview.
The commission has taken a leading role in selecting a final plan
for the school, which is scheduled to open in September 2016 for
about 500 students.
The town began tearing down the former school building in October
and plans to begin construction on the new site by this fall. Since
the attack, classes have been held at a building in the neighboring
town of Monroe.
The design also calls for the ground at the main facade to slope
downward so pupils will be able to look out of the windows without
fear of anyone looking in, Mitchell said.
"We are a small town and want this school to reflect our town's
identity," said Mitchell. "This plan does that."
Alana Konefal, senior designer for Svigals & Partners, told the
commission that the classes will "branch out in a treehouse-like
effect" that will create a cozy, secure environment for learning.
[to top of second column]
Jay Brotman, a partner in the firm, said safety and security are
also "obviously vital to the new school's design."
"There are many elements we are using to make this school extremely
safe, though many of those elements are basically invisible," said
Newtown, located some 80 miles northeast of New York City, is home
to about 27,000 people.
The design must win the approval of local officials and the state
government before construction can begin.
The architects said Tuesday they expect to present a nearly final
site plan to the public in late April, with any final changes
included in a final plan by May.
Another commission member, former town First Selectman Joseph Borst,
said the proposed design "has a welcoming arc in the front of the
building while providing the best security possible."
Nothing will be built on the site of the shooting, Borst said,
adding that it would be a memorial "forever."
(Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis, Eric M. Johnson and Eric
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.