The Suwyn Early Learning Center at the Bonita Springs YMCA is a daycare facility serving up to 150 children. A total of 36 infants and toddlers occupy the western wing, and up to 114 children between 2 and 10 years old are taught and cared for in the eastern wing. This divide helps keep the age groups separate and gives each group quick access to their respective playground areas.
The owner expressed a desire for a double-loaded corridor plan with one central point of access for security. These design parameters typically lead the floor plan into a long rectangular shape; however, due to multiple overlapping site-constraints, the long rectangle approach would not fit in the desired location of the building. The floor plan had to fold onto itself to fit within all the easements and setbacks. This folding of the building presented an opportunity for the roof plane to connect the two ends of the original rectangle to create a covered playground space, with a centralized garden and aperture to the sky.
An overall goal of a daycare or preschool facility is to begin the young children’s life-long process of learning how their minds and bodies interact with the built and natural environment around them. For both the children and parents, it can be a very stressful experience, with the child consistently leaving home for the first time. Although adjacent to a large parking lot and local street, the playground and garden area is physically and visually protected from both pedestrians and vehicles. The dynamic blue surfaces frame the nature preserve behind the building and the sky above the central garden, creating an exciting and open feeling space, while also private and secure. The building’s design creates a place, where the goals of learning about the world around them is not scary, but fun, comfortable, and secure for both the young children, their parents, and staff.