The Mason Early Childhood Center’s building program was developed through a collaborative process that involved the school district, community, educational facility planner and architect. The primary challenge was to design a 1,500-student school that has child-friendly, residential-scaled spaces. The design uses a progression of scales from overall building to CAPACITY1,500COST PER SQ FT$134.45FEATURED IN2007 Architectural Portfolio schools to “neighborhoods” to four-classroom clusters to achieve this goal.
The resulting “butterfly”- shaped, three-part plan has common facilities including offices, a media center, cafetorium and gym flanked by a preschool/kindergarten on the left and first-grade school on the right. Each school has its own parent dropoff loop, parking and age-appropriate playground, and is divided further into two color-coded neighborhoods. A separate rear access drive and bus loading area serves both schools.
Within each school neighborhood, four-classroom clusters grouped around tutoring alcoves punctuate the corridors. Each alcove has a unique geometric shape and color pattern in the floor. Color-coded wayfinding stripes and floor patterns also help guide children from entries to their own area of the building. Although it is very large, the center looks and feels much smaller.