Barrington Early Learning Center
We designed this early learning center to accommodate pre-kindergarten students from three to four years of age, including a large number of students with special needs. The new center is an addition to the existing Prairie Campus of Barrington Middle School. While the ELC operates separately from the middle school, the two share a vestibule for access between schools and community functions at the middle school’s gymnasium.
After meeting with a selected group of faculty, administrators, and community members over two full-day workshop charrettes to identify preferences and priorities for the school, the design team and workshop committee developed a number of priorities which would become core features of the building’s design. Most importantly, the building design centralizes common functions to allow easier access for students and teachers. Access to health professionals and large-group gathering spaces is provided along a central corridor, minimizing the length of commute between classrooms and these common spaces.
The building design provides a safe learning environment without sacrificing openness. The central corridor and classroom villages are separated from the controlled main entry vestibule to effectively create a self-contained school area.
Access to the outdoors and natural light is integrated into the design. Each classroom is oriented to the north and south to avoid the glare of early morning sun and the heat of the afternoon sun. Other sustainable ideas include south-facing clerestory windows in the corridors and south-facing classrooms that control the direct southern light through the use of overhangs and sun-shading devices. Each individual classroom is able to directly access a private, secured outdoor play area.