Newark, NJ,  – The Clinton Hill Community & Early Childhood Learning Center in Newark’s South Ward, which was designed by New Brunswick-based DIGroup Architecture, has been named 2022’s Outstanding Project for Early Childhood / Elementary School New Construction / Addition in the Entire School / Campus Building category. The center welcomed its first students in June and is among a select group of national PK-12 and Higher Education learning environment projects being recognized by Learning by Design for their architectural innovation.

Delivery of the new, ground-up Clinton Hill Community & Early Childhood Learning Center marks a major milestone for pre-kindergarten education in the urban Lower Clinton Hill neighborhood, which had been lacking in early childhood facilities. The project advances Gov. Phil Murphy’s commitment to providing universal preschool programming to all children across the state.

Home to Early Headstart and Preschool programming, the two-story, 40,000-SF facility serves as a visual and community-gathering focal point with six toddler rooms and 10 Pre-K classrooms organized in pairs for easy connectivity to shared spaces. Additional features include indoor play areas, a family center, play therapy suite and open circulation spaces wrapping the building perimeter. Large windows allow for abundant natural light and serve as a visual gateway to the sky, courtyards and an adjacent community garden.

“It was our pleasure to create meaningful space and incorporate a range of flexible uses for the Clinton Hill Community & Early Childhood Learning Center’s multigenerational end users – students, families, educators and local residents,” stated Principal Rich Alderiso of DIGroup. “During the course of our involvement, we enjoyed learning about and from the community about their needs and vision, which are reflected in every architectural-design element of the center. We are proud to have had this opportunity to create an inviting, thriving educational center that serves as a springboard for future academic and wellness success.”

The facility, constructed on a once-vacant lot, also earned New Jersey Business Magazine’s 2022 New Good Neighbor Award earlier this year.

Established in 2006, DIGroup Architecture is a nationally recognized leader in architecture, interior design and environmental graphic design with studios in New Brunswick, N.J., and Philadelphia. Its practice areas focus on the full range of educational, healthcare, senior housing and civic/community gathering spaces. A certified Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Small Business Enterprise (SBE), DIGroup subscribes to an Architecture for Change philosophy, which is a belief and commitment that through transformative designs it is possible to connect people, improve lives and enrich and strengthen communities.