Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
FasTracKids in Staten Island, New York by Studio 16 Architecture
September 9th, 2016 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Studio 16 Architecture
Leading children’s enrichment education franchise FasTracKids International, ltd. has opened an academy on Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY to serve area children ages 3-6. The architects designed a modern, child friendly environment that directly reflects the innovative, technology driven program. The facility, located in a building also designed by the architects, features a free-standing curved walled classroom with a clear Plexiglas ceiling.
Educational experts agree that children learn best when they’re having fun. Every FasTracKids session contains a terrific blend of engaging activities including: role-playing, interactive games, arts and crafts, science experiments, as well as videotaped speaking opportunities. Each FasTracKids activity feeds children’s natural curiosity and encourages them to stretch and expand their imagination.
The program was to build a single classroom of about 325 SF.within the space, which is irregular in plan, 1,425 SF in area with a 14’ high ceiling. A waiting/presentation area for parents with a plasma screen TV and a reception area were also required. The facility was to utilize the franchise colors of blue and yellow. The directors wanted a modern space of a caliber which reflected the components of the program, with a maximum budget of $35,000.00, which included the cost of furnishings. The building contains a cellar, which needed to be finished for use as storage and office space, the cost of which was also included in the $35,000.00 budget. The architects were also commissioned to design a reception desk and assist in choosing furniture.
The goal of the design was to relate the shape and construction of the classroom to the program, which educates children in 12 subject areas, including biology, literature, economics, earth science, and mathematics. Constructed of metal studs and layers of ¼” gypsum board, portions of the room’s construction are visible, giving the children a look at the components of the wall. The shape of the room is biomorphic, which relates the room to the areas of earth science and biology, while also being in contrast to the angular geometry of the building, to relate to the mathematics aspects of the program. But first and foremost, it is a fun shape. The FasTracKids Learning System also features interactive, touch-screen technology which also influenced the design.
Given the 14’ ceiling height, the decision was made to keep the ceiling of the classroom low, to be in proper scale. The use of a standard hung ceiling grid with clear Plexiglas panels kept costs down and enabled the architects to utilize the existing lighting grid and take advantage of the natural light coming form the storefront and clerestory windows. The existing HVAC supply and return were simply extended down with round duct and left exposed. Regularly spaced metal studs break free at the top of the wall and penetrate the hung ceiling to attach to the roof structure for support and to teach the children about the wall’s construction. The architects established a child friendly horizon of 3’-6”- which they had successfully developed on another early childhood development project – expressed via a jig in the exterior of the wall. The inward angle of the wall was derived from the 3’-6” height zone to lend a sense of intimacy to the interior of the classroom, as in an embrace form a trusted and loved adult. The window was placed by asking a few children where the window should be. It is fun for them to look through the window and see not only the studs, but the classroom interior. The children respond positively to these elements, knowing that there is something there for them alone.
The color scheme plays off of the required blue and yellow, utilizing a range of color between the two. Primary colors were used in the floor tiles and appear to have been randomly tossed in to place.
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Category: Child Care