This elementary school cafeteria renovation project was designed to capture the energy of the students, solve major acoustical concerns, set standards for other Norwalk School District cafeteria environments, promote healthy eating, and improve lighting and ventilation – all while highlighting the location of the school on the Connecticut shoreline.
The cafeteria space incorporates creatures that could be found in the community’s shoreline region. A school of fish gathering throughout the space adds pops of color “under the sea” at the children’s eye-level. Simulated port holes are placed throughout the room and exhibit photographs taken by school parents – highlighting local landmark scenes and images. A sperm whale, Connecticut’s State Animal, breaches the wave surface, drawing the students’ eyes up to the high ceiling. The existing acoustical ceiling tile was painted to simulate a blue sky using a special paint to keep the acoustic quality intact. Unique custom-designed acoustical panels shaped like clouds were strategically-sized and located horizontally and vertically to complete the sky simulation. As an educational component, nautical flags were added – each one standing for a letter that spells out “Rowayton”. The materials used for the clouds, whale, waves, flags, and fish all have acoustical absorption values that contribute to reducing previous noise level concerns. With lighting being another concern, new LED light fixtures were added. Small fans that previously had no impact in the space were replaced with one large fan – an inexpensive solution to enhancing the ventilation within the space. Even storage for the students’ coats and backpacks were considered, leading to the installation of boat cleat hooks along the wall and stage, keeping with the nautical theme.