It’s one thing for an architect to design a new school, quite another when that school is on the site of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut. The school has since been razed. In September, the town’s Public Building and Site Commission chose New Haven-based firm Svigals + Partners to design a new building on the same site but in a different location. From the start, the design process, led by 65-year-old founder Barry Svigals, has been highly collaborative, involving numerous meetings and workshops with Newtown residents. In February, Svigals and his colleagues unveiled three designs for the new school, and one—dubbed “Main Street” for its central, connecting corridor—was quickly embraced by town officials. Construction is set to begin later this year, with students in place by fall of 2016. Svigals spoke to Record by phone.
How did you bring Newtown community members into the design process?