To meet the increasing demand for enrollment, Newton Early Childhood Program (NECP) engaged us to transform and revitalize an existing elementary school in Newton, MA, into their new home. This district-wide integrated preschool caters to children aged 2.9 to 6 years old, serving 200 full-time and 100 part-time students, including those with special needs who receive comprehensive speech, occupational, and physical therapies.

Designing spaces for children with special needs requires thoughtful consideration and careful decision-making to create a setting that promotes comfort and well-being. Paying attention to sensory stimuli is crucial. Research shows that bright, saturated colors can be overly-stimulating. In contrast, soothing, chalky tones and off-whites cultivate serene spaces which promote ease and reassurance.

Every element of the signage and wayfinding was designed with a focus on emotional comfort and security. By using circular shapes, chalky tones, and rounded letterforms, the signage supports the interior design goal of prioritizing students’ emotional well-being.

Showcasing an engaging pattern of colorful, dimensional disks, the school’s main lobby now features a prominent installation inspired by the school’s hand-print logo. Students actively participated in the process by hand-painting the dots with child-safe milk paint matching the colors used throughout the school. The hands-on approach provided each dot with a unique pattern and fostered a sense of ownership and pride among students.

The combination of thoughtfully selected colors, shapes, and typography crafts a welcoming environment that ensures comfort for all—students, faculty, staff, and visitors alike. Furthermore, the student-created installation establishes a distinctive and engaging identity and nurtures a sense of pride and belonging within the student body.

Project Details


Newton, MA


City of Newton

Photos by Ed Wonsek