Paterson, NJ Board of Education is the third largest school district in the state of New Jersey. Like most northeast urban school centers, Paterson is very typical. Buildings dating back over 70-years are still in use, there has been no new construction since the early 70’s, overcrowding to the point of students being bussed out of the district is common, and the fact that there is very little open space to build on.
Desperate for additional classroom space, the District in 1997 started looking at all alternatives to reduce the overcrowding and bring back the students who were being bussed outside of the district back into Paterson. The new superintendent, Dr. Edwin
Duroy, Ed.D. first heard about modular construction through his associates who knew about the modular building program with the City of New York Department of Education. The Superintendent in turn was directed to Kullman Industries of Lebanon, NJ. Before touring Kullman Industries’ construction facility and other completed New Jersey modular projects by Kullman Industries, there was much trepidation as to what the superintendent and his facilities and engineering people were going to see. They assumed that modular construction meant temporary classrooms, like the school district has had onsite since 1975 and were ready to be condemned. They all assumed that what they were going to see was a trailer plant manufacturing a wood frame relocatable classroom being built on an assembly line.
The superintendent and his facility’s people were astonished to see completed educational projects being constructed in a factory, totally together, with four-inch concrete floors, full four-inch brick exteriors, six-inch masonry interior corridor walls, completed ceramic tiled bathrooms, heating and air conditioning systems, even chalk and tack boards being installed into the modular building sections at the factory.
They were even more impressed to see entire schools and additions that they were able to go into and walk down the corridors and into classrooms, offices, and multi-purpose rooms right at Kullman Industries’ factory. They also got to see a completed project at the factory starting to be taken apart and placed as three-dimensional modular sections onto the flatbed trucks that were to transport these sections to the jobsite.
The district was so impressed that they couldn’t wait to tour a completed educational facility that had been in operation for a number of years. They got that opportunity by touring a 20,000 square feet sixteen-classroom project a the Little Ferry, NJ Board of Education, that was built in 1994 by Kullman Industries. What impressed the superintendent and the other representatives from the Paterson Board of Education about the Little Ferry project was that it was multi-story, due to the fact that there was little available open space to build this addition, which was similar to one of the concerns that Paterson Board of Education had. It was also important to see that the interior finishes of six-inch masonry block walls and terrazzo floors in the corridors were the same predominant building materials used in the Paterson School District buildings.
When the representatives from Paterson first arrived at the site, they commented on how perfect the new addition blended with the existing structure to the point that they did not even realize which was the new modular addition and which was the site built school. They were even more impressed to learn that the project started construction in March 1994 and was completed for the opening of school that same September.
When the superintendent from Paterson discussed Little Ferry’s project with their superintendent he found out that Little Ferry’s architect had complete freedom with the interior and exterior aesthetics, space layouts and mechanical system with no pre-set parameters. Dr. Duroy eventually had ten other members from the Paterson Board of Education take tours of the Little Ferry project because he was convinced that this was the way to proceed with any new educational construction for the Paterson Board of Education.
To say that Dr. Duroy and the other members of the Paterson Board of Education were impressed with modular construction is an understatement. Starting in May 1998 through February 2001, the Paterson Board of Education has constructed seven new additions totaling over 90,000 square feet, which house
over 2,100 students in 86 new classrooms, all built by Kullman Industries. In addition to the standard classrooms, some of the additions were dedicated to kindergarten wings and others had complete science wings that were desperately needed within the district. All the additions ranged in size from a small of 7,500 square feet to the largest being 26,000 square feet. Each of the projects total construction duration ranged from four months to six months.
The success of Kullman Industries’ modular construction program for the Paterson Board of Education is just one example why many school districts in the northeast are now considering modular construction as an alternative to lengthy and cost prohibited conventional construction.