Celebrate NJ Architecture – DIGroup:Memorial Elementary School

April 8, 2014

As part of  National Architecture Week , an event that showcases architecture’s influence on daily life, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is working to increase attention to the role architects play as a force for positive change in our communities and to elevate the public’s appreciation of design.   Each day this week this blog will highlight an AIA-NJ Design Award that exemplifies this –

DIGroup Architecture Receives AIA-NJ Design Award for Memorial Elementary School

Leading Design Firm Honored for Creative Rebuilding of Fire-Damaged School in East Brunswick, N.J.

digroup01_da2013The New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ) has awarded New Brunswick, N.J.-based architecture and planning firm DIGroup Architecture with an Honor Award for its innovative rebuilding design of Memorial Elementary School, a facility in East Brunswick that was severely damaged by fire.

“DIGroup Architecture is well deserving of this award, having demonstrated true vision and imagination in this challenging rebuilding project,” said Kurt Kalafsky, AIA, president of AIA-NJ. “The redesign of Memorial Elementary is representative of the AIA’s goals at large: Advancement of the architectural profession with an emphasis on community service and sustainability.”

After a blaze devastated the building in 2008, DIGroup Architecture, through its 20-year standing relationship with the East Brunswick Board of Education, stepped in to lead the vast rebuilding project. Citing the original building’s energy inefficiencies and layout inconsistencies, the firm set forth a plan for a redesigned 72,000 square foot structure to include upgraded security systems, abundant natural light, and traffic-easing egresses.

“This building, and the story behind it, represent much more than great architecture. They are proof that through strong relationships, dedication, and trust, architects and New Jersey Public Schools can hold themselves to a higher level of architectural design,” said Jeff Venezia, AIA, president of DIGroup. “Despite the difficulties inherent in the design and construction of publicly funded projects, there is still time for architectural inquiry in pursuit of better facilities for students, teachers, and the communities that unite around them.”

Completed on time and on budget, the new Memorial Elementary School features two separate buildings connected by glass corridors, creating an accessible, fully secure courtyard connected to pre-K classrooms. DIGroup’s design also included the creation of “MemorialWalk,” a ceremonial pathway dedicated to members of the armed services.

“Every student deserves great architecture,” Venezia said. “They deserve an architect willing to explore options and communicate solutions to those who need to see them along the way.”

The AIA-NJ Annual Design Awards program recognizes architectural projects that exhibit design excellence in one of four categories: Open (meant for any building type), Residential, Historic Preservation and Interior Architecture. Projects are further designated as either Built or Un-built. To be eligible, projects must be either located in New Jersey or designed by an AIA-NJ architect. Submitted projects are evaluated during the organization’s annual Design Conference by a group of distinguished architects from throughout the country.



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