Biophilic design, a philosophy that seeks to connect buildings with nature, is gaining popularity in New Jersey’s educational facilities, particularly schools. Architects and engineers in the state are embracing this design trend as they transform aging K-12 schools into innovative spaces that prioritize wellness and outdoor connectivity.
For example, the recently developed Ross Street Elementary School in Woodbridge features a central atrium that allows for outdoor learning and flexible spaces. Many other school districts in New Jersey have expressed interest in incorporating similar features, either by repurposing existing structures or creating new extensions to connect indoor and outdoor areas.
The concept of biophilic design goes beyond creating engaging learning environments. It also focuses on wellness by incorporating features like natural lighting and ventilation. Architects are designing more straightforward wellness centers in schools, addressing the need for better air quality and ventilation systems, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
LAN Associates, an architecture and engineering firm based in Midland Park, has made education projects a significant part of its portfolio, accounting for about 60% of its work. As more school districts aim to keep up with design trends and prioritize the well-being of students and staff, LAN Associates anticipates a steady stream of K-12 projects.
In addition to schools, biophilic design principles are also being applied to office spaces. Douglas Adams, a senior vice president of development at Streetworks Development, emphasizes the importance of natural light in the workplace. Studies have shown that workers exposed to natural light experience fewer health issues and higher productivity. Streetworks Development is repurposing former Lord & Taylor buildings in New Jersey, such as One Westfield Place in Westfield and 50 E. Ridgewood Ave. in Paramus, into flexible workspaces that prioritize natural light and employee well-being.
Biophilic design in schools and office spaces reflects a growing awareness of the impact of the built environment on human health and productivity. These design principles create spaces that foster a stronger connection with nature, resulting in improved well-being and performance for students and workers alike.
– “Biophilic design incorporated in N.J. educational facilities” published by NJBIZ
– “The importance of natural light in the workplace” published by NJBIZ