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2008 Exhibition of School Planning and Architecture. Catherine Kolnaski Elementary School. Groton, Connecticut New Construction Project of Distinction JCJ Architecture. Cafetorium. Community Environment:

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Catherine kolnaski elementary school

2008 Exhibition of School Planning and Architecture

Catherine Kolnaski Elementary School

Groton, Connecticut

New Construction

Project of Distinction

JCJ Architecture


Community Environment:

The Catherine Kolnaski Elementary School is one of three school projects resulting from an extensive Master Planning effort undertaken by the town of Groton. JCJ directed the planning process that brought consensus among town and school administrators, as well as the public, whose feedback was actively solicited several times in open forums throughout the planning effort.


Community Environment: Continued…

JCJ assessed the feasibility of renovation and/or expansion of existing facilities compared to the cost of land acquisition and new construction. This PreK-5 school serves 550 students and is the first elementary school built in the town since 1968. It’s core spaces are multi-functional and can be secured from the classroom areas yet accessed for after hours events and activities.


Learning Environment:

Through both the Master Planning and Building Planning process, flexibility of the learning environment emerged as being most important to stakeholders and designers alike. The L-shaped classroom configuration provided the most adaptable solution for diverse learning. This configuration facilitates both passive, teacher directed learning and active, student directed learning by allowing for a specialist to work individually with one or two students, or students to work on projects with each other without disrupting their classmates.

Media center
Media Center

Learning Environment: Continued

The physical environment is scaled to the student. The one-story wing houses grades PK-1. The two-story wing houses grades 2-5. The media center is centrally located between them.

Exterior back
Exterior Back

Physical Environment

We view our school buildings as teaching tools that are as important to learning as the resources they contain. Learning is spontaneous and occurs in every setting for children. Outside, students learn physically through playscape activities and passively by observation and investigation.


Site Plan


Planning Process:

JCJ believes in a design process that focuses on consensus building and engages all segments of the community. Town administrators, school administrators, teachers, parents, students, and members of the general public participated in workshops. The information gathered was used to develop goals for the building and objective criteria for evaluating design solutions. JCJ presented multiple solutions at each design phase for committee review and discussion. Solutions were presented with associated materials and costs, providing the information necessary for efficient decision-making that kept the project on schedule.

Physical Environment - Continued

Inside, the L-shaped classrooms adapt to age groups and activities providing opportunities for diverse learning zones. By creating activity settings, the classroom may be arranged and viewed as supporting formal, informal, and creative skills.

Exterior back1
Exterior Back

Planning Process: Continued

Our commitment to the countless generations of children who will use our schools is to provide them with safe, nurturing, and joyful environments for exploration and discovery.