Childhood Center, Mount Hood Community College|
1231 N.W. Hoyt Street, #102, Portland, OR 97209
Location: Gresham, Oregon
Date Bid: Sep 2010 Construction Period: Oct 2010 to Sep
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.
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
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
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.
Fiber Cement Siding: JamesHardie
Interior: Cemco, USG, Knauf Danoline Stratopanel®
Membrane Roofing: Johns Manville
Shingles: CertainTeed Windows: VPI
Entrances & Storefronts: Kawneer, Lynden Door
Lighting: Prudential, Philips, Halo