Designing a building with children in mind demands a different touch than most commercial architecture projects. It requires the careful use of color and light to create spaces that encourage learning and collaborative play. And in the case of Portland Community College’s new child development center on its Rock Creek campus, there also is a strong desire to connect the spaces inside with those outdoors.
“Lighting is a big thing,” said project lead Allyson Oar, an architect with Scott | Edwards Architecture. “We want children to feel connected, not just to the teacher and the inside, but to the outside as well.”
General contractor Kirby Nagelhout Construction Co. of Bend broke ground earlier this month on the 7,800-square-foot facility. It is a new ground-up building with a $7 million bond-funded budget intended to serve as many as 67 children of PCC students and staff. It will have three pre-kindergarten classrooms and an infant classroom, as well as a multi-purpose room that can be opened to the outside via a vertical door.
“We thought a lot about color and how it can help foster a soothing environment for children to learn in,” Oar said. “So, we’re using mostly blues and greens. We wanted to have a connection with this idea that children are connecting with the environment outside, so we felt that pastel blues and greens would give a more natural feeling and a calmer environment.”
To further this idea, nature-based play elements such as logs, sand and a rolling landscape are being used in the facility’s outdoor play area.
Another notable design aspect on the building’s exterior involves the use of standing seam metal and various woods to reflect the appearance of other buildings on the Rock Creek Campus. It also is being constructed to achieve Earth Advantage Certification (EAC) Gold for sustainability.
“It’s actually very similar, but a bit more affordable for clients to get the certification,” Oar said. “LEED can be time consuming and cumbersome for the design team and costly for the client, so some of the smaller certification systems can be more appealing. They push the contractors and designers to push for similar efficiencies at a lower cost.”
Zahava Jones, project manager for PCC, agreed.
“LEED has really been on the forefront, but now there are other programs that are great for smaller projects,” Jones said. “Energy is a big hog, so if you have good systems in place and use healthy materials and the siding is done appropriately to maximize the sunlight, it’s great that there are other programs out there that can help achieve the same goal.”
Jones noted the project will also include a rooftop solar array, but its size and composition have yet to be determined.
Many of the materials used in the project also required careful consideration, Oar said.
“It goes hand in hand with sustainability,” she said. “With little kids crawling around on the ground, we wanted floor surfaces that aren’t toxic; we wanted everything to be as natural and resilient as possible.”
That goal extended from the linoleum used to line the floors to making sure only paints containing no volatile organic compounds were used.
In the end, the project, which is scheduled for completion by spring 2019, is about improving the student experience, according to Jones.
“It’s just really important to know that this is a student service,” she said. “Our goal at PCC is to help students achieve success and give them the best chance to complete their degree or certificate program, so having this on campus will benefit the students greatly.”
Title: Child Development Center Design Connects Space Inside and Out
Posted By: DJC Oregon
Author: Josh Kulla
Date: June 26, 2018
Link: Original Article