LEAP Academy STEM Charter School Camden, New Jersey

A New Laboratory for Learning in Downtown Camden
Located in a distressed historic neighborhood on a former commercial site, the LEAP Academy STEM Charter School in downtown Camden, New Jersey is an important facility for this growing charter school. STEM represents the main program of study in which all students will participate. Context-sensitive urban design and integration of the latest building technologies and sustainable practices allow this facility to become an exciting, real-world laboratory for learning for an underserved student population.

Working closely with LEAP, Kitchen & Associates successfully integrated the adaptive re-use of an existing historic mansion façade into their design for the new school. Accommodating 240 students in approximately 30,000 square feet of space, the finished facility simultaneously incorporates programs for Pre-K, grades K through 3, and grades 9 through 12 into discrete learning environments within the overall building, while establishing a strong connection with the surrounding community and environs.

At the heart of the design approach, classrooms, and science/technology laboratories have been combined in order to foster a more collaborative teaching and learning environment—one that is both flexible and dynamic for students and teachers alike. Supporting these learning spaces, a media center and library offers the students the latest in information technology, while a modern “fab lab” and computer-aided design classroom provides cutting edge training in hardware and software.

The building also boasts two state-of-the-art 100-seat lecture halls each outfitted with modern computer and A/V capabilities. These will be shared between LEAP and neighboring Rutgers University, creating opportunities to connect, relate and cross-pollinate between high school and college students and instructors. Light-filled study lounges, adjacent to classrooms and located throughout the building, are fitted with informal, soft furnishings that help facilitate an open and welcoming atmosphere where students and faculty come together and interact in a casual and comfortable setting.

Click here to view the Interior Design services related to this project.