Beechland Road Early Learning Center

overview

A daycare facility wants to have a child-friendly feel to it. Words that come to mind when envisioning daycare are safe, inviting, nurturing, friendly. These attributes, when present, make a daycare facility successful. This is especially true when an existing building undergoes a child-friendly daycare conversion. The Jackson Laboratory’s Beechland Road Early Learning Center, managed by the Downeast Family Y, is a renovation of a plumbing supply warehouse and showroom. None of those child-friendly words applied. The transformation that occurred was the result of dedication and teamwork.

details

Client
Downeast Family YMCA
location
Ellsworth, ME

The Jackson Lab decided to procure the project using a local design-build team to accelerate a schedule facing a late start to the project, relative to the anticipated opening date. A third-party owner’s representative joined the team to increase management capacity. On top of this, the Y was able to devote a considerable amount of time through the design process to advise on the design. The confluence of owner representation, design-build, and fast decision making made a complex project go quickly and smoothly.

A child-friendly daycare conversion must meet the basics: excellent air quality, enough classroom space for each child, sanitary conditions, and security. These factors can be achieved by following building and health codes. A child-friendly daycare conversion must then also consider other qualities: an indoor play space; access to outdoor views and daylight; materials and finishes that are safe and easy to clean.

As with all projects, balancing cost and quality was an issue. The design-build process was especially helpful here. The construction industry is fraught with a basic disconnect: contractors have access to pricing, and designers do not. On this project, the design-side members could offer alternative material suggestions and the build-side members could quickly get pricing feedback.

What is the most important take-away for doing a child-friendly daycare conversion? Daycare facilities are almost like healthcare facilities. Safety and security are paramount, and do not come without a price. Go into a project with eyes wide open about the quality level that must be achieved, and paid for.