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Essex County College hopes to attract technology-minded students with a striking new campus in West Caldwell that will change the landscape along Bloomfield Avenue.

The four-story building with a double-glazed facade features color-changing lights that will give the campus a “high-tech look,” according to Nicholas Netta, president and CEO at Netta Architects.

“The school does not have any interconnection with the surrounding environment,” said Netta. “That’s why we positioned the building in front of the road.”

The makeover is long overdue and will usher in regional colleges into modern times. For the past 40 years, classes on the West Caldwell campus have been held at the converted, century-old grammar school that is about to be demolished.

The design of the new building reflects the internal changes taking place in the school. The administration told Jersey Digs it was working on overhauling the curriculum with a computer-focused offering as well as classes in health and medical. The 52,000-square-foot facility will house four computer laboratories, the Academy of Technical and Skilled Sciences, and the Information Institute.

“We hope to continue to meet the needs of the community in the new building that attracts the public’s interest,” said Dr. Elvira Vieira, Dean at the school. “We will adapt as needed and review possible new offerings by talking to local high schools and local businesses.”

The building’s planning collided with the pandemic, resulting in a more ventilated terrace and outdoor meeting space that would turn this commuter school into a social place. “This will be a place where students want to come and live,” said Jim Johnson, project designer for Netta Architects.

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