On the edge of a commuter college campus is an oasis where children play and students learn. The Santa Ana College Early Childhood Education Center serves children of local residents and college students, while enabling budding child-development professionals to observe them.
The $6.5 million, 18,200-square-foot complex CAPACITY94COST PER SQ FT$357.00CITATIONSpecial CitationFEATURED IN2012 Architectural Portfolio 160 infant-to-preschool children and 100 students from the college’s early-child development program. The center features eight children’s classrooms, a central kitchen and administrative area, and two lecture rooms. The college program’s second-floor perch includes an open veranda, enabling unobtrusive observation of the playgrounds below.
The design team was inspired by the village of Craftsman cottages and gardens at Pacific Oaks, Pasadena, a leader in early- childhood education. This model has been reinterpreted in a contemporary vein. The children’s classrooms are clustered by age group in Modernist bungalows, each with their own bathrooms, kitchens, patios, skylighted classrooms and protected playgrounds, grouped around a large shared commons.
The concept lets young children have a richer experience with nature. To counteract endemic childhood obesity and increased isolation from nature, this project provides an indoor/outdoor sanctuary from the city.
"This project is an oasis that enables students freedom and choice in a bright, warm environment. Great use of the outdoors. A safe and secure environment for children."--2012 jury