The Early Childhood Center replaces an existing facility at Mount Hood Community College. The college lacked funding for the project, but leveraged an existing relationship with Headstart and several private donors to finance the new childhood education center. During vision sessions, the College was drawn to creating an environment that allows seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor learning and play. Concepts identified by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, helped drive the design, which promotes strong connections to nature. Set on a former parking lot but surrounded by mature fir trees, natural and man-made environments form an engaging network of playgrounds, eco systems, gardens, and interior play areas. Children enjoy ample opportunities for exploration, creativity, free-thinking and interaction; they can “get dirty” by playing in the sandbox with a water hand-pump or with floating ducks in the wet-play area.
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