Washington University Childcare

Location: St.Louis, Missouri
Program: University Childcare Facility
LEED Certification: Gold
Status: Complete, 2010
Photography: © Kate Joyce Studios
Selected Recognition: Brick Industry Association, Bronze Medal

The Washington University Early Childhood Learning Center expands the University’s current childcare program with a new 20,100 square foot facility. The center is operated by Bright Horizons, and serves 156 children ages six weeks to six years. While the main campus is known for its gothic-revival structures, the North Campus embraces contemporary architecture. As the first new building on the North Campus, the Early Childhood Learning Center is leading this effort.

The University requested a sophisticated, masonry design incorporating playful elements that children would relate to. The design features clean volumes of dark brick, interrupted by vast glazed openings and monumental colored glass towers. The fractured H shape of the building creates bright and airy spaces, with an abundant amount of daylight and views to the outdoors. The first floor is designed to provide classrooms with direct access to the age appropriate playgrounds, with a courtyard playground for the infants and toddlers in the center of the building.

Having achieved a LEED Gold certification level, the center integrates many sustainable design strategies. Using a VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) HVAC system, energy efficient equipment and lighting, lighting controls, and a thermally efficient building envelope, the building is designed to save 30% in energy costs over a comparable building. Regional, recycled, and rapidly renewable materials are used extensively. The landscaping, including the playground, requires no irrigation, using only native and adapted planting. Bio-swales, a micro-detention basin, permeable concrete sidewalks, and permeable pavers address the extreme storm-water control challenges that are unique to St. Louis.