We recently celebrated the opening of the Child Development Center in Tuolomne County, California. The team (myself included) designed this center on the campus of Columbia College to allow mothers to continue their education by providing a fun place for their children while they're at class. The place is revolutionary on many levels. The five building center mimics a village in the rural foothills, with each age group in their own miniature house. Rather than sequestering operation away in a different area, each building has two classes united by a kitchen with washer and dryer in the center, so the children are never far from the sounds they associate with home. It seems as if it were designed by the children themselves, with doors and windows, even the sinks and toilets, set at their height. My favorite part is that the center was set in the middle of a mature oak forest, with no grade changes, so the buildings are on piers to prevent damage to the root systems of the trees. These trees, aside from being loved by the children, will serve the purpose of keeping the buildings cool in the summer, part of our LEED design. The photos where you can't see the buildings for the trees- that's the point! I was brought on the projects as an ecologist with the goal of preserving as many trees as possible.
For more on this project see my other post