The Lawrenceville School – Gruss Center for Art and Design

  • area / size 17,000 sqft
  • Completed 2020
  • Sasaki designed the Gruss Center for Art and Design for project-based learning at The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

    The new makerspace building at The Lawrenceville School is a new addition that bridges between an existing John Dixon Library (1930), renovated into a museum space, and the visual arts studios, to create a 21st century student learning center bookended by these two existing brick buildings.

    The strategy for enclosure has been to respond to this new typology by creating a neutral and simple piece that contrasts with its context, while allowing for transparency and student engagement with the activities that are happening inside.

    Today’s shift in the educational paradigm is centering the project-based learning as an effort to promote cross disciplinary teaching, where students realize their potential impact in the world by being able to make things with their hands, and where creativity is fostered by group collaboration and testing spaces. The aim of the project is to nurture this hands-on culture. Students will use virtual reality, robotics, and computer-based work as forces for innovation within their projects.

    The Gruss Center for Art and Design building includes 15,000 square feet of work-focused spaces on three levels that host, among other programs, lobby and forum spaces for student engagement, makerspaces (including wood and metal shops, clean labs, print and seminar rooms), and large storage areas. The Flex Room floating over the lobby is a 2,000 square foot room that can be divided into quarters or halves. This flexible learning space was incorporated into the design to give the school a place to host a multitude of events, including banquets, science fairs, and even large lectures.

    Architect: Sasaki
    Photography: Jane Messinger