Project JOE (Jump on Education)— NEWS

Project JOE (Jump on Education)

Frustrated by the limitations of manufactured modular construction, the San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento, California turned to Nacht & Lewis for help. Following years of struggling with a lack of flexibility in products from the traditional modular construction markets and a need to have better control over short summer construction schedules, Project JOE was born. Nacht & Lewis’ Education Team went to work developing a series of classroom standards focused on 21st century learning environments that could be built quickly but with high quality results.

Project JOE is a modular design incorporating standard classrooms, kindergartens, media centers, workrooms and restrooms. Like many prefabricated modular buildings, Project JOE standardizes a design and building modular which facilitates adaptive reuse throughout the school district and with speed and strict cost controls. These buildings are envisioned to be a viable, permanent and highly sustainable alternative to the modular classroom. Project JOE has been designed from the ground up with the student and teacher leading the way. When asking children and educators what works in a contemporary classroom, the most popular responses were:

  • flexibility
  • light
  • openness
  • access to technology
  • indoor-outdoor learning

Project JOE responded with an open plan, operable partitions between spaces, high ceilings with abundant windows and skylights, roll-up garage doors to the outdoors and plenty of writing surfaces, flat screen monitors and wireless connectivity.

These buildings utilize panelized wall and roof construction, a rain screen envelope and off-the-shelf components for quick on-site construction. Traditional school building materials like cement plaster and finished gypsum wall board have been eliminated in favor of durable materials which allow for faster construction. Project JOE benefits from standardized modules, repetitive geometry and a menu-like list of optional components allowing for flexibility and customization from school to school and grade level to grade level.

san juan unified school district

In addition to providing rich, fulfilling and sustainable learning environments for our children, Project JOE is intended to remove the frustration of the limitations of commercially available modular buildings. Project JOE is a custom building designed for the kids and teachers of the San Juan Unified School District. Standardization based on the particular interests of this school district leads to the benefits of using modular construction without the limitations built into the traditional products available from local or regional manufacturers. With the assistance of Nacht & Lewis and the staff and students of San Juan Unified, the District now has a viable alternative to the status quo. These buildings can respond to changing demographics by being constructed quickly and be competitively priced with comparable commercial modular building products. With Project JOE, the students of San Juan Unified are truly getting a Jump on Education.

The fall of 2016 school year will usher in the first 10,000 s.f. of new Project JOE learning spaces at two elementary school sites in the District. Greer and Cowan Elementary Schools will be the lucky two schools to test out two years of planning and design. Post occupancy evaluations will identify any potential modifications to the standards and Project JOE will be set to take its place improving the learning experience for kids at other schools throughout the San Juan Unified School District.


For more information on Nacht & Lewis education projects, contact Brian Maytum.

May 5, 2016

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