Almost four years after a gunman killed 20 students and six educators on Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has reopened. The new building, said superintendent Joseph Erardi Jr. in July, has a “warm and calming environment”–but also security that is “second to none.” Architect Barry Svigals says his firm bridged that gap by designing several key elements. Among them: classroom doors that look like wood but are actually stainless steel; bright, open areas that can be sealed off from classroom wings; and impact-resistant windows that offer views of nature and of anyone who’s approaching the school.
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This appears in the September 12, 2016 issue of TIME.