Early Childhood Development Center
Charleston, South Carolina

For over thirty years, the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC), managed to be the premier pre-school learning center in the city despite their facilities. Located in a modest 1950's commercial structure, the program overcame the inefficiencies of this adaptation to become an excellent teaching training laboratory school associated with the College of Charleston.

The program entailed the complete renovation of the existing building, the conversion of a boiler room into a new multipurpose space, and the development of an infill addition that joined the two. The intent was to not only provide much needed additional space and to improve the functionality of the facilities, but it was important the renovated facility establish an educational presence that support the ideals of the learning program.

The design is based on a series of strategies that address the urban condition, a spatial strategy, and phenomenological considerations such as employing light as experience, and understanding the profound haptic sensibility of children. The urban design strategy entailed two primary considerations. One, given the peculiar geometry of the site, the infill is conceived as an urban hinge. This geometry is resolved in the formal attenuation of the infill. Secondly, the facade is seen as an urban mask that mediates between the coarseness of the street and the re-affirming sensibility of the interior realm.

Spatially, the design of the renovation/addition mediates between the normative and the specific. Simply put, the spatial strategy involves the resolution of spatial zones between the normal or orthogonal particulars of the original building and the asymmetric condition of the boiler addition. The resolution embraces the spatial play between the two ordering systems resulting in a transformative interior experience.