Early childhood education (ECE) campuses have unique design needs for campus circulation, building layout, and learning environments. While some elements of ECE campus design relate to the design of K-12 schools, it is important that spaces designed for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers support the specific developmental, scale, and schedule needs of young children.
Most ECE campuses need to enable parents to park and walk their child into their classroom or a designated hand-off point. Compared to K-12 schools with drop-off lanes, this can require a significant number of parking spaces unless the program has staggered start times. Site design must balance the needed parking with the goal of minimizing walking distances for young children, or for parents carrying infants and daily supplies. Traffic control can be an important consideration for half-day ECE programs which may have 4 peak traffic periods every day. And full day programs that serve breakfast, lunch, and snacks every day may require additional service vehicle access.
Whether an ECE campus has only a few classrooms or many, the building needs to feel welcoming to young children which can influence how classrooms are grouped, where shared resources are located to reduce walking distances, and how volume and views to outside are used to define spaces. An ECE campus may consist mainly of classrooms, or may have shared resources such as a library, multi-purpose room, fine motor and gross motor spaces, discovery labs, art and music classrooms, administrative offices, and space for related services such as speech/language, physical therapy, and social services. Many preschool/pre-K programs encourage independence amongst students – an intuitive building layout with thematic wayfinding that is appropriate for pre-literate children can help the building be used as a teaching tool to promote independence.
Unlike classrooms for older students, ECE classrooms should support learning through play and enable the creation of varied activity centers such as dramatic play, sensory exploration, building blocks, literacy, art, technology, and movement, for small group and individual exploration. Classrooms for infants and toddlers often must meet specific requirements for crib or cot spacing and may require space for car seat storage and privacy for nursing mothers. Restrooms/changing rooms are usually attached to each classroom or pair of classrooms to enable supervision and assistance with toileting and provide easy access to changing supplies. Classroom materials should be durable enough to stand up well to robust use and regular sanitizing while providing a welcoming background for instructional displays. Outdoor learning environments should provide a variety of opportunities for gross motor play, sensory play, discovery, and interaction with nature. Depending on the school’s scale and outdoor play schedule, this can be a single large area or several different outdoor learning spaces, and may need to include child restrooms and trike storage rooms that can be accessed from the playground.
D/P/S has extensive experience designing early childhood education environments including:
Dekker/Perich/Sabatini is an award-winning, multidisciplinary design firm that has served public and private clients for over 55 years. Our staff includes architects, interior designers, planners, structural engineers, landscape architects, and experts in sustainable design in offices in Albuquerque, NM; Phoenix, AZ; Las Cruces, NM; and Amarillo, TX. As a regional leader in design excellence and sustainability, we have successfully completed thousands of projects by collaborating directly with owners and communities.
Our professionals are experienced in primary, secondary, and post-secondary facility design to provide specialty design services for a variety of educational facilities. This diverse pool of talent enables us to develop innovative design solutions that draw upon the best ideas and practices from throughout the Southwest. A well-designed building not only provides an aesthetically pleasing and functional environment for the people who work and learn in them, but also centers on a balanced response to changing ideas in teaching with recognition of our client’s reputation and traditions.
We are an award-winning, multidisciplinary design firm that has served public and private clients for more than 55 years. To better respond to our clients’ needs, we have concentrated our design and technical resources into “Practice Areas,” where our personnel specialize in building types such as housing, commercial, healthcare, government and education. Through the Practice Area concept, designers work on the projects they are passionate about, honing their skills specific to that type, keeping abreast of the latest trends, and training the next generation of designers.
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As a leader in the field, we have over 20 years’ experience in the design of healthcare facilities. With more than 20 multi-disciplined personnel, our Healthcare Group has collectively worked on more than 250 healthcare projects. Our group has created master plans for medical centers, planned new hospitals and hospital additions, orchestrated major renovations to outdated hospitals and created spaces for highly specialized equipment.
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We provide a wide range of planning and design services, from conceptual land use plans to design guidelines to municipal submittals and approvals. We excel at providing integrated design and planning solutions that are market-driven and sustainable. Projects range from large-scale master planned communities to small in-fill tracts. Our group utilizes the design expertise of the firm and a collaborative approach to maximize development opportunities for the client. With our integrated team of planners, landscape architects, and architects, we can generate initial design concepts and take projects through to construction documents.
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Our passion is to help our clients realize their dreams by partnering with them through a collaborative, multidisciplined process that recognizes new trends and utilizes technologies to create functional, comfortable, and stimulating places. Browse some of our newest projects that are currently in construction.