The Calais School
Expansion and Renovation

The Calais School provides a safe and inspiring learning community for students with special needs. It occupied a schoolhouse last renovated in the 1940s that had nostalgic charm but fell short of meeting the school's evolving needs. The executive board wanted to update their school, but was stumped on how to achieve ambitious goals on a standard not-for-profit organization's budget. Impressed by the school's mission, KSS Architects worked closely with the school and project team to meet Calais' numerous goals beyond design by developing economical strategies and solutions to make the project a reality.

KSS made careful design decisions that accomplished very much with very little without compromising quality. For example, the design clads the new three-story addition with prized materials, like cast stone, in areas of high visibility, while cladding the remainder in durable brick masonry. The project completely reorganized internal circulation to meet the school's needs more effectively and to improve wayfinding for occupants. The master planning has vastly improved the relationships among student groups by allowing students to develop areas they can proudly call their own. Due to the remarkable coordination efforts, project construction and renovation were safely and efficiently executed while classes were in session.

Project Highlights
Whippany, New Jersey

Program: K-12 special needs school

Size: 30,000 sf (existing building) and 15,000 sf (new addition)

Features: New entry lobby, administrative and nursing suites, kindergarten classroom, science laboratory, language and math classrooms

The new addition is working wonderfully. We've received tremendous feedback from students, faculty, and parents. Though any good architecture firm would have been more than competent for this project, what makes KSS stand out is their creativity and excitement.

David Leitner, executive director
of The Calais School

KSS' willingness to listen to suggestions without any hint of a self-serving posture was a clear indication that the firm's goal is to work in the best interests of the Owner.
Stephen Trapp, president of The Gale Construction Company

Photos: Barry Halkin