REED Academy is a new, private non-profit school for children with PDD-NOS or autism and children that would benefit from applied behavioral analysis techniques as their primary educational focus.
Located on an 8-acre site in a New Jersey exurb, REED (Resources for Effective Education Development) Academy houses a non-profit academy for children with autism spectrum disorders. The 27,000 sq ft academy accommodates 10 administrators, 30 teachers, and 30 children ages three to twenty-one.
The building supports a highly individualised educational approach, using science-based, applied behavioural technologies. The goal is to maximise student potential and independence, ultimately to mainstream them in their home school district. The design for the academy builds on the idea of the environment as a teacher; using both structured and unstructured zones, the school design encourages productive relationships between built space and pedagogy.
The design for REED Academy builds on the idea of the environment as a teacher and encourages productive interrelationships between built space and pedagogical technique. The school is conceptually based on an interior street that wraps around a central multi-purpose room, which serves as the communal heart of the building. Two wings of the building open up to the landscape beyond and create a sheltered courtyard for supervised play and outdoor activities.
The school design is based on an interior street that wraps around a central multipurpose room, serving as the communal heart of the building. Two wings open up to the landscape beyond, creating a sheltered courtyard for supervised outdoor play. The court and the wings are connected by alcoves that are used as ‘special points of interest’ such as toy areas, student stores and a place for playing a piano along what would conventionally be hallways with doors.
Along each street are alcoves where students can set up stations where they can learn communication and other life skills through modeling and play techniques. Open communal spaces are dispersed throughout the school and populated with kitchens, tables and pianos to encourage a sense of community and interaction amongst students. The building includes spaces for housekeeping and personal care, where students can learn fundamental life skills.
Using glass and a careful layout, REED Academy ‘blurs the distinctions between learning needs approaches and environments,’ says WXY founding principal Claire Weisz, utilizing glass in order to even remove the distinctions between actual spaces. The design is based on applied behavioural analysis (ABA), a highly regarded approach to addressing the needs of young autistic people.
The building favours efficiency and a high benefit/cost ratio. A pre-engineered metal building system is customised to increase window area and variety of form. Clerestories of polycarbonate insulated panels are built into bow-trusses; a dark standing-seam roof contrasts with lighter-coloured horizontal banding of the concrete board below, with its coloured and standard window units.
Location: Oakland, NJ, USA
Architect: WXY Architecture
Size: 27,000 SF
Cost: $ 4725000
Client: REED Academy