Project Report

Mahwah High School STEAM Lab | Mahwah, NJ, USA

We have always recognized that daylighting is both an art and a science, which makes it an appropriate focal point for Mahwah High School’s new STEAM Lab.
The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) approach to education takes an important step in recognizing the importance of and integrating the arts into a science-and-technology-geared curriculum. The arts foster creativity and ingenuity that allows for successful application of other skills.

The 9,000-square-foot facility—designed by Tokarski Millemann Architects and fondly nicknamed the “Thunderbird Think Tank” in honor of Mahwah High School’s logo—houses classrooms, indoor and outdoor labs and a gallery to showcase student projects.

Tokarski Millemann was looking for the perfect material to use for the art gallery component of the facility. According to principal architect, Michael Millemann, “The vision was to create a ‘cube’ shaped space for the display of the students’ creative works which were previously tucked in a hallway. The material needed to create a beautiful glow from the exterior along with permitting only serene, diffused light to the interior.”

Kalwall’s museum-quality daylighting™ delivers full-spectrum, diffuse natural light to allow for high visual acuity and accurate color rendition within the gallery space. This creates a comfortable, welcoming environment for viewing artwork and other projects or hosting gatherings.

A custom blue face sheet was developed to match the school’s logo. The blue is not a coating, but rather full-color thickness through the entire exterior face, utilizing Kalwall’s super-weathering technology. Due to the panel’s power of diffusion, the blue exterior does not affect the quality of light within the space, but it allows for a beautiful, soft glow at night that acts as a marquis for the school.

During the day, Kalwall’s best-in-industry solar heat gain control prevents the cube from becoming a hot box and superior thermal performance ensures a comfortable environment all year long while lowering HVAC loads. Combined with daylighting’s ability to reduce reliance on electricity, Kalwall plays a major role in the project’s overall energy efficiency.
Cost efficiency is another benefit Kalwall provided. Panels are low maintenance with a self-cleaning surface, meaning normal rainfall helps to keep the exterior free of sediment while at the same time retaining its original color during the weathering process. The lightweight panel system minimized the need for additional internal structure for a very clean design, while rapid installation kept the project on schedule and on budget.

“The Kalwall translucent panels exceeded our vision,” said Millemann. “We worked with Kalwall’s Steve Del Guercio and their team to develop a daylighting and structural strategy, and the custom panel color. The Kalwall cube anchors the addition to the existing building and is a visual beacon located on axis with the entrance to the campus. Along with the client, we could not be happier with the final product.”

The Mahwah High School STEAM lab will be an environment in which students can thrive for generations to come.

Download Project Report


Panel: 2.75˝ | 70 mm
Grid core: shoji
Exterior FRP: blue
Interior FRP: crystal
System finish: aluminium #79
U-Value: .14 | .78 Wm2K
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient: .14
Visible Light Transmission: 6%

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