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  Early Childhood Center, Mount Hood Community CollegeEarly Childhood Center, Mount Hood Community College


1231 N.W. Hoyt Street, #102, Portland, OR 97209

General Description

Location: Gresham, Oregon
Date Bid: Sep 2010 Construction Period: Oct 2010 to Sep 2011
Total Square Feet: 22,740 Site: 2.746 acres.
Number of Buildings: One; 10 classrooms: 8 children, 2 adult.
Building Size: First floor, 22,740; total, 22,740 square feet.
Building Height: First floor, 18’ 3 ˝”; total, 18’ 3 ˝”.
Basic Construction Type: New/VB.
Foundation: Cast-in-place, slab-on-grade.
Exterior Walls: CMU, JamesHardie Fiber Cement Siding.
Roof: Asphalt shingles, membrane. Floors: Concrete.
Interior Walls: Wood stud drywall.
Projected and/or modeled energy usage: KBTU/SF/yr: 33.2.

Project Team

Structural Engineer: Harper Houf Peterson Righellis, Inc. - 205 S.E. Spokane Street, #200, Portland, OR 97202
General Contractor & Cost Estimator: Walsh Construction Co. - 2905 S.W. First Avenue, Portland, OR 97201
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Interface Engineering - 708 S.W. Third Avenue, #400, Portland, OR 97204
Food Service Consultant: Halliday Associates, Inc. - 656 N.W. Norwood Street, Camas, WA 98607
Landscape Architect: GreenWorks, PC - 24 N.W. 2nd Avenue, #100, Portland, OR 97209

By seamlessly connecting both indoor and outdoor spaces, the owner and design team worked to create the Early Childcare Center - an environment that invites poetic reflection, joyful play and stimulated learning. Inspired largely by Richard Louv's work Last Child in the Woods, the Early Childcare Center successfully diminishes what he calls "the staggering divide between children and the outdoors." Thus, through small play-learn communities, natural and manmade environments, as well as the use of daylight and seasonal patterns, the center effectively counteracts "nature deficit disorder" by engaging children in creative exploration.

What started as a 90,000-square-foot asphalt parking lot was transformed into 60,000 square feet of pervious play areas. Multiple collaborations exceeding standard contractual relationships had enormous impact on building this award-winning facility. The college, which had been unable to construct a new building on campus for 30 years, expanded an existing relationship with Headstart to finance the center. It also conducted an ambitious fundraising campaign, successfully securing support from donors to fund essential elements for the envisioned nature-based play environment. Creativity and close collaboration between the college, the architect and the contractor enabled the project to incorporate high impact details on a tight budget.

Located in a high-poverty neighborhood, over 80% of students attending Mount Hood Community College (MHCC) fall below the income threshold to qualify for Headstart. The center gives priority to children of MHCC students, allowing parents the opportunity to further their own educations. While inspiring children to connect to their peers as much as the environment, the center features a fireplace surrounded by lounge-style seating. It is here that parents can meet with caregivers, observe their children at play and utilize available computers. Furthermore, students enrolled in the college's childcare program have both the space and resources to follow their passions.

Conceived as a village of small play-learn communities surrounded by nature, the center resembles a cluster of houses. Natural and man-made environments form an engaging network of nature-based playgrounds, ecosystems, gardens and interior play areas. Spaces with varying degrees of openness and daylight support a multitude of activities and interaction throughout the center. Reinforcing this connection with nature, operable windows, daylighting, solar panels, a high efficiency envelope and an open stormwater treatment ensure a healthy, resource efficient facility.

Internally, lower ceilings relate directly to the scale of children and kite shaped trusses harvest daylight from above the corridors into the play-learn spaces. While maintaining a low-intensity light, window seats provide views into the external play yard and surrounding landscape. Dedicated to preserving as much of the natural landscape as possible, 50-year-old trees were left untouched, offering a natural buffer to the center's neighboring street. Reclaimed wood, which was found in the college basement, was applied to the ceilings in the corridors, creating a richly hued and intrinsic connection to adjoined outdoor settings. To further emphasize the home-like character of the center and overall connection of the community, designers included handcrafted benches produced by local high school students. Deep-set walls provide play spaces for children intent on exploring, as well as offer accessible storage space for staff. Areas offering varying degrees of openness and daylight inspire a multitude of activities, sensations and moods throughout the center, while internal and external transparency serves to connect children with exterior environments and ensures supervision.

Product Information
Fiber Cement Siding: JamesHardie
Interior: Cemco, USG, Knauf Danoline Stratopanel®
Membrane Roofing: Johns Manville
Shingles: CertainTeed Windows: VPI
Entrances & Storefronts: Kawneer, Lynden Door
Daylighting/Skylights: Solatube
Lighting: Prudential, Philips, Halo

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