Garfield Early Childhood Center (aka New ECC)

241 Ray Street

Garfield, NJ 07026


Garfield Early Childhood Center

Prior to the formation of the NJ Schools Construction Corporation (SCC), Garfield’s Board of Education recognized the need for an early childhood facility soon after the Abbott Decision. Garfield then amended their Long Range Facility Plan with the NJ Department of Education (DOE) to incorporate it into their master plan.

Soon after the plan’s adoption by Garfield, the now established SCC came to their aid to help guide Garfield through the pre-development/land acquisition stage and begin the design process of this facility. MRM Architects was awarded this project by the SCC as the design firm. As the project progressed, the SCC awarded PMF (Project Management Firm) agreements statewide and assigned Skanska USA to act as their managing agent for the Garfield School District. Together, MRM Architects and Skanska USA completed the design process and brought this project into the construction phase. Through the SCC competitive bidding process, Gale Construction Company was awarded the general contract for this school. In just over one year from the Notice To Proceed, the project team has successfully completed and opened this school for use by the Garfield School District in time for the 2004-2005 academic school year.

The selected site for the early childhood center was the last undeveloped vacant parcel of land within the City of Garfield neighboring a residential zone and within easy access for the parents of Pre-K school children. With its new entrance located off of Ray Street to the east, it is bounded by Kipp Avenue of Elmwood Park, its neighbor, to the north, Lanza Avenue to the south and Fleischer Brook to the west. Due to the sensitivity of its location, the traffic patterns to and from the site were of major concern to the school district. Taking this into account, MRM Architects, in concert with their civil engineering consultants, Langan Engineering, designed the access into and out of the site to reduce congestion during peak periods. It was determined that the traffic flow should be one way. Vehicles enter from Ray Street, across the campus to the “drop off” area and out onto Kipp Avenue which then leads back onto Ray Street guiding traffic into a non-obtrusive pattern.

This school facility was designed to accommodate 360 children of Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 ages. This Early Childhood Center is approximately 45,000 square feet consisting of two stories. The exterior wall system consists of a combination of face brick, scored ground-faced block and cast stone accents with EIFS accents located at gable end sections; and curtainwall systems located by the stairwells and above the main entrance. The center is “L-shaped” with the main linear area be occupied by the academic wing consisting of 24 classrooms and the short leg consisting of the administrative area, a “warming” kitchen and a commons area serving as a cafetorium/gymnasium. On the exterior there is a secured outdoor playground area and planting garden. Parking for 60 cars to accommodate the administrative staff, the teachers and their aides have also been provided.

In accordance with DOE’s suggested design considerations, this school facility was designed with the needs of children’s learning environment in mind. MRM Architects provided for the inclusion of daylight into the commons area via a large skylight, the doors to the classrooms have the three basic geometric shapes (circle, triangle and square) as the borrowed lights cut into them, and accent colors are used for classroom identification both in the corridors and within the class itself. So as to provide a child friendly interior environment, circular columns have been covered with a protective layer to resemble crayons. In addition, embedded graphics, such as, a “spilled box of crayons”, have been located at the main entrance and commons area within the finished floor elements.

On October 27, 2004, NJ Schools Construction Corporation representatives joined Garfield School District educators, area officials and community supporters for the grand opening of the new Early Childhood Learning Center. The event featured a ribbon cutting, open house and tours of the new facility.