Childcare Design Journal Spring 2018

Page 1



What Items Cost the Most?


How to Choose the Right Floor Plan For Your Facility Calbert Design Group, LLC

CONTENTS 4 How to Organize Your Ideas

6 Best Location for Your Monument Sign

8 Building Child Care: What 6 Items Cost the Most?

14 The Best Location Affects Your Bo om Line

18 How to Choose the Right Floor Plan

20 Child Care Center Design

22 Protecting Our Children with Synthetic Turf

23 Design Inspiration




Comfort Charm H

ello, we’re welcoming Spring with our first issue of As a studio of architects, designers, and planners that focus primarily in childcare, we are very pleased that we are in a position to offer this publication as a resource to owners and operators throughout the United States. Our goal is to share with you informative articles and inspirational project examples that will help you feel confident in your decisions regarding the design, construction, and maintenance of your childcare facilities. I hope you will enjoy reading this magazine periodically and that you will allow me to continue to provide great service to you in the future. Please feel free to share this issue with friends and colleagues. I would love to hear what they think of the magazine too. We believe that inspiring childcare design will improve communities and the family support system along the way. Thank you for always keeping our Childcare Design Studio in mind for your design needs.


For more inspiration, visit us at and




s you dream about how you want your childcare center to look and feel, gather design

inspiration ideas and photos of what you like. Inspirational photos can be gathered from a number of sources. We recommend using an idea collecting website like Pinterest or Houzz to create an idea book that can be shared with your design team. This is a good way to make sure that when you describe the style of building you want, there are no misunderstandings. It also eliminates the need for you to label your style. You make think that you like Farmhouse style when really your vision is more Craftsman style. By collecting inspiration images, it no longer matters what name or labels are used to identify your thoughts. As you ďŹ lter through dierent ideas and then circle back and review them, over time you will begin to see a very clear picture of what your leaning towards. 4


Inspiration from Pinterest and Houzz When collecting ideas on Pinterest and Houzz, make notes about what you like about each image. It may be an photo of a restroom with a pretty gray tile that you want to use in your Reception area. Write a note to remind yourself, and your design team, what it is exactly about this photo that you like and where you think it might be used in your building. A simple note stating “gray tile for reception” is all you need. Don’t worry about what type of building your inspiration comes from. You may find you like a brick and stone combination from a house image, a porch column trim idea from a swimming pool gazebo, and a reception desk cabinet and countertop from a kitchen image. Let your imagination stretch beyond the building type.

Collecting Inspiration from Multiple Websites The internet is a great resource for inspiration. If the photos you’ve collected are from many different sources, we recommend that you save the photos into a shared folder on the cloud so that it can be viewed by your design team. Each image has a location for writing a description as well, leave your notes about what you love in this area so that others will know your thoughts. Always include notes about your photos. The inspiration gathering phase can continue over a long period of time. Over that time you will have forgotten what you originally liked about an image. The notes section will be there to remind you what you were thinking at the time. As your style tastes evolve, having the notes handy will help you weed out ideas that you no longer favor. Removing photos that no longer apply will help you focus on the elements that you will ultimately include in the final design. WWW.CHILDCAREDESIGN.COM






What 6 I tems Cost the Most ?



A Guide to Help You Make Smart Choices During the Design of Your Child Care Center.


any people think childcare buildings are elaborate houses with a few extra re-

strooms added. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Childcare is a complicated

building type to design, and it has requirements that vary greatly from state to state. The extensive experience Calbert Design Group has obtained has allowed us to become an invaluable resource for our childcare clients. We’ve collected some of the costliest decisions regarding the design of a child care building and want to share them with you here as a guide in your decision-making process.





What State is the facility located in?

Is your location on a hillside?

Every state has their own building codes re-

The steepness of a hillside at a child care cen-

lated to childcare and local municipalities drill

ter is crucial. Trying to build playgrounds on a

down to even deeper specifics. Because they

hillside will involve multiple retaining walls. All

are public laws, municipalities publish these

classroom exit doors are required to lead out

items online for free access. Generally, local

of the building with an ADA compliant path. It’s

requirements are the size of a 50-page book-

not enough to have handicap accessible play-

let, and they make for some great bedtime

ground equipment; you have to also include an

reading if you have trouble falling asleep.

ADA path to the equipment.

Be Cautious:

Be Cautious:

Many different codes will need to be followed simultaneously, and it’s crucial to know which code takes precedence over which. The building code may state that your corridors can be 60” wide, but the fire code may state that they have to be 72” wide. 10

Retaining walls over 6’ high will require a higher level of engineering design and separate permitting, which will result in added costs. Retaining walls over 24” high will require fencing to protect pedestrians from falls, even when these walls are not along a sidewalk. SPRING 2018



Where will the playgrounds be located?

Are you targeting premium level accreditation?

Plan to reference state childcare playground

State childcare requirements are the absolute

requirements, Federal Accessibility Laws, Play-

minimum requirements to open your doors

ground Safety Commission, and State child-

for business. Most states have elective “pre-

care licensing. They all have area, shade, and

mium” or “star” ratings. There are also elective

fencing requirements. Reach out to experi-

ratings within the childcare industry, such as

enced playground equipment manufacturers

NAEYC. Compare the various elective rating

in your area. They are a great resource for in-

systems and the costs associated with follow-

formation and are always happy to help point

ing their requirements and determine if there

you in the right direction.

is value in going the extra mile.

Be Cautious:

Be Cautious:

The level of information involved in playground design is just as extensive as building design. There are requirements for types of equipment, age appropriateness, fall zone cushioning, fencing, and accessibility.


These elective rating standards are usually stricter than state requirements. But beware of following them blindly, there are rare occassions when the NAEYC standard is less stringent than the state requirements.


5. Are you following a brand design standard?

How much cooking will occur on site?

Referencing a well-documented corporate

The amount of food preparation you will have

brand standard takes the guesswork out of

on-site will determine the type of Kitchen need-

selecting finishes, but they allow for very little

ed for the facility. Kitchen requirements can

flexibility. Independent ownership allows for

vary greatly, and your operations process may

more design options and creative ideas. This

evolve over time. Reference your state and

flexibility allows for more creative freedom

local Health Department as well as Plumbing

with finish selections, but will also require a

Codes for their most current requirements.

more extensive decision-making process.

Be Cautious:

Don’t get overwhelmed with the finish selection process. A longer process will extend the design schedule and result in a higher design fee. With a brand standard, there is no need to select new finishes and a quicker design phase reflects a less expensive design fee. 12

Be Cautious:

Your kitchen equipment choices will have trickle-down effect and add further requirements. Deciding to include a stove or fryer will, in turn, require you to have a larger grease trap, a larger electrical panel, and a more advanced fire suppression system within your exhaust hood. SPRING 2018

CONCLUSION Designing and building a code compliant facility is required by law, but you still have many choices to make along the way that will have a domino effect on your budget. Don’t try to save money by putting your project in the hands of someone who thinks he can “figure it out.” Figuring it out will take time and errors will be made. In the construction of any building, time and mistakes can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Regardless of the size and location of your child care center, you will be required to use a licensed architect. Select one that can give you the most guidance possible and help you make informed design and operations decisions. Make sure your architect has extensive experience in child care and is well versed in the many federal, state and local regulations. Only a true child care specialist will be able to deliver a design that will work for your business goals and keep you aware of each decisions’ budget repercussions. Our team of designers, planners, and architects have the knowledge and resources needed to create a daycare interior design that is both visually impressive and logical. Contact us today to get your childcare interior design project started. WWW.CHILDCAREDESIGN.COM


 Best Childcar Location





is crucial for any

business to flourish and the best childcare location is the one that fits your business goals. Of course,



market matters a great deal to the success of your establishment, but the best location for your childcare center can affect its bottom line. 14


The Value of Location Consider how parents prioritize location, apart from cost and quality, when looking at their options for child care. The cost of child care services differ in every state because different locations will have varying wages, cost of living, regulations, and licensing requirements. So a childcare center in New York, for example, may cost more than a center in Louisiana even though each one offers the same services. You can use these variables to identify the ideal community before building a childcare center. A best strategic location may require more in terms of startup cash, but the center will pay for itself when you’re able to meet the demand. If your center is in a busy district, whether it’s in a commercial complex or in an office building, you can expect to take care of enough children to thrive. You also have to consider accessibility when choosing your best location. Can parents easily commute to and from your center? Does your establishment have plenty of parking spaces? Is it accessible to persons with disability? But the right location doesn’t just provide convenience. It should also meet health regulations, safety codes, and adequate space.



K ping Children Fr

from Harm

Outdoor Hazards can range from the most harmful toxic substances to the everyday dangers of air pollution. Builders and engineers are required to test for these things before moving ahead with your childcare center. For example, if you are planning to build your center in an old building, a licensed inspector must evaluate the property for toxic substances such as lead, asbestos, arsenic, and other harmful materials. Whether your childcare center is free-standing or in an existing building, make sure it’s not near a gas station or any area that may pose a fire hazard. You should also consider fire safety design when building your childcare center. Your facility should have two exits for every room and one exit must directly lead to the outside. Fire suppression systems such as water sprinklers and fire extinguishers may be required throughout the facility as well. In addition, you need to think about the quality of outdoor air in your location. A high-level of air pollution can affect the indoor air quality of your childcare center.



Comfortable Children, Compliant Center Your childcare center should have sufficient indoor and outdoor spaces. Its indoor space needs to have adequate room for every child to move around freely, to store their belongings, and to enjoy activities. Your outdoor space, meanwhile, needs to be sufficient for play activities. Moreover, the amount of space you have must be adequate for the number of children you are taking care of. Every state’s licensing requirement calls for specific square footage per child, indoors and outdoors. Failure to comply with these requirements will prevent you from obtaining a childcare license. You should also learn about the zoning laws. Governments pass zoning laws to keep business activities out of residential areas. Before making any plans, make sure your desired location is zoned properly for daycare centers. Finding the best childcare location is one of the most important factors that can affect how well your next childcare center performs. As a business owner looking to expand, the right location can affect the outcome of your plan. Consider your options well and choose a suitable address for your establishment. WWW.CHILDCAREDESIGN.COM


How to Choose The Right Floor Plan T

he demand for child care is on the rise. In fact, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that it will be among the fastest growing industries through the year 2020. If you’re looking to enter

this industry and start your own child care center, you need to start with building a facility. This can be an exciting, yet stressful, process. You need to design a facility that is not only highly functioning, but also that meets your needs and follows state laws. We’re here to help. Keep reading to learn a few simple tips to choosing the perfect child care center floor plans for your new facility.

Start With a List of N ds Before you can start considering child care center floor plans, you need to be clear about what your business needs are. If your child care center cares for children of many ages, you’ll need separate spaces for each age group. If you care primarily for special needs children, you will need to account for extra space for wheelchairs and other assistance devices. Starting with a list of things that you must have can help make it easier to narrow down your options for child care center floor plans. 18


Make a Budget

State Licensing

Once you’ve listed the elements that your floor plan needs and the

Each state has require-

requirements and laws in your state that might affect them, it’s time

ments for child care cen-

to set a budget. Your budget for your child care facility will allow you

ters. Before you can start

to figure out where you can splurge and where you must save. It can

designing your floor plans,

affect the overall size of your facility, how many rooms you can have,

make sure you know the

and more. Settin

at potential

laws and requirements of

child care center floor plans can help you avoid spendin too much,

your particular state child-

or havin to redesi n your floor plan partway throu h a project.

care licensing agency.

a bud et before you start lookin

Avoid Blind Spots

Plan for Growth

When it comes to caring

You’ll put a lot of time and money into planning and building your

for many children at once,

facility. The last thing you want to do is outgrow it soon after it is

avoiding any possible dan-

complete. Planning for a larger number of children than you cur-

gerous or bad situations is

rently care for can size your building adequately for years to come.

the key to success. Choosing the right floor plans for a child care center in your facility When you’re reviewing a po-

doesn’t have to be a challenge. By following these easy guidelines,

tential floor plan for your fa-

you’ll be able to choose a floor plan that functions perfectly for

cility, consider any possible

your center and provides you with years of functionality.

problems. Are there blind spots in the room? Will children have direct access to a door that leads out of the facility? Are areas like kitchens or storage closets properly separated from primary care areas and secured with locks? WWW.CHILDCAREDESIGN.COM


Child Care Center Design A

re you about to embark on a child care center design project, perhaps for the first time? These projects are becoming more common. Even universities are introducing them to help

support workers’ families – so they’re a good source of business. First, there are a number of relevant codes and standards you must meet. And of course, you should endeavor at all times to make the area as child-friendly in both its emotional and physical aspects. Here are 4 of the most important child care center design guidelines. You should make sure the end result meets all of these.



set when they’re not with their parents. This is

for children must be safe. Consider common

especially true when they’re not at home.

hazards like steps, hard surfaces and the poten-

It Should Feel Like Home

Young children can be very disoriented and up-

Ensure Safety for All

It goes without saying that an area constructed

tial for objects to fall from tall counters. To make them feel safe, you should do your best to create a ‘home-like’ feel. The interior

If there are any units like cupboards and draw-

design should be warm and welcoming. Warm

ers, these need to be securely attached to the

colors are great, but there should also be plen-

floor – and ideally a wall – to prevent toppling.

ty of natural light. It may be necessary to add child-proof gates, And why not leave one area of wall ‘ready-to-

and attach soft edges to corners. You might also

paint’ so that the first group of kids can have a

consider how the interior will be laid out. There

go at making the space their own?

should be an indoor space big enough for children to run around, too!




Don’t Forget It’s for Children

Children aren’t as tall as adults! Don’t forget to build things to their level.


Adult Only Storage

Adult only storage is required in each child care center classroom and restroom for personal belongings and daily cleaning supplies. It’s im-

Sinks in bathrooms should be low enough

portant that these childproof storage units be

that they don’t have to stand on a stool. Low-

locked with a key at all times.

er door handles only on doors and gates that you want to encourage children to use.

Individual support rooms such as Laundry,

Sink faucets within the restroom should have

Kitchen, and Resource areas should also be kept

separate hot and cold levers to teach children

locked, even when in use. This prevents a child

which side is which. Using pre-mixed water

from accidentally entering into a hazardous

temperature is preventing them from learning

space or being left unattended in any area of

a life skill.

the building. There are a number of items, such as cleaning products, craft supplies, and utility

Basically, anything that you want the children

connections that need to be kept out of reach.

to interact with needs to be lowered to their height.

N d More Advice Before Construction? Do you need more guidance on how to properly design your child care center? Our comprehensive 9-step process takes into account everything from designing and financing the project, to construction and licensing needs. WWW.CHILDCAREDESIGN.COM


Protecting our Children with Synthetic Turf W

e recommend using synthetic turf on our Commer-

cial projects any time the budget allows. It does not require pesticides, fertilizer, an irrigation system or mowing. It’s a great cushioned surface for playground equipment fall zones. It’s a great cushioned surface for playground equipment fall zones. We work closely with wonderful vendors such as XGrass and Little Tykes, who meet the standards of the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA)v to ensure surfaces are ADA compliant and provide an extra level of safety for our children. Today’s synthetic turf products are



with padding that reduces shock and accelerates rainwater drainage.



“design inspiration” a sampling of





f Chip and Joanna Gaines ever decided to open a child care center, they would fall

in love with this farmhouse child care center design. The business brand, name and farmhouse concept were created completely in house. We began the branding process by researching and discovering the child care customer’s desired experience. We found that working parents want a relaxing and comfortable child care environment that feels like an extension of the home. They also want their children in the care of teachers and sta with strong core values. This market discovery exercise determined that the notable and trending farmhouse interior design style that everyone craves could be successfully re-imagined as a child care brand. The farmhouse child care center concept speaks of a simpler time when 24


children played until dusk to catch fire flies. The old fashioned farmhouse style gives a relaxed and comforting feeling to both children and parents. The farmhouse brand concept, the company name, logo, colors, building and website design were all developed to have a cohesive business brand message that would be a unique differentiator in the child care market Inspiration for the name “little kid academy” was sparked from a combination of the popular farmhouse style and a play on words.

farm = goat baby goat = kid farm + kid = little kid academy

The farmhouse child care center building design is laid out on a long rectangular footprint for versatility purposes. This makes siting the building just as easy on a long and narrow lot as it would be on a wide street frontage lot. The logo combinations shown are for signage purposes as well as interior color selections. Each color shown can correspond to a different age group or area within the building. The whitewash ship lap wall would make s distinctive and textural feature wall within the lobby and office areas. The logo and name of “little kid academy”, as well as the building design are copyrighted by Calbert Design Group, LLC. However, we would love the opportunity to talk to you about what your brand message wants to be and help you carry out a visual style that is unique to you.



Primrose School Sandy Springs, GA


hange is difficult. It takes a lot for someone to look at a set of drawings, under-

stand the plans, and see the vision for a future childcare design. To deliver an urban childcare design solution in an under served market in Sandy Springs, GA, an existing office building was selected that was part of a 4-lot mixed-use planned urban development (PUD) by Halpern Enterprises. It took a vision for what could be and patience to see the project through to fruition. Prior to re-zoning, the land had been occupied by two run-down homes being used as offices, and a 2-story commercial office building being used as a synagogue, and some overgrown green space. As soon as construction began, the two houses were demolished. The commercial office building was remodeled into a childcare center and the undeveloped green space was developed into single family town homes. 26

Since the property is located along a heavy commuter road and the entrance is not facing the street, branding and signage were extremely important components to the exterior urban childcare design. There was a specific need to attract and guide families unfamiliar with the location to the building. Once there, families are welcomed by a beautiful stone veneer entryway that leads to an open 2-story reception area. Thanks to the shared parking available from the neighboring offices, we were able to convert most SPRING 2018

of the existing parking lot into playground space. The flat areas of play create a spacious extension of the classroom, while the retaining wall offers protection from the elements as well as a sound barrier. The three types of building uses living side by side is a classic example of good land stewardship for the community. Each building is relying on the other for mutual support. During construction you could get a sense of what was happening, but it wasn’t until it came to fruition and you see the actual community living, working, and playing together that you realize the true vision.



Carrington Academy Suwanee, GA




his private childcare facility is a development

soft padding underneath to protect children

in Alpharetta, Georgia that was designed to

from falls. Trike paths encircle the larger play

continue the rustic look of the brand’s two-story

pieces to encourage children to ride trikes.

flagship location at the Windermere Golf Club campus.

Located directly adjacent to the Big Creek Greenway of Forsyth County, encouraging a healthy

The building’s brick and stone veneer is accent-

family lifestyle for after work activities. The big

ed with rough cedar trusses and cedar covered

creek greenway is a 12′ wide path meandering

gables over shade porches on both the front

through the woods along the banks of Big Creek.

and rear sides.

When all phases of construction of the path are completed, the trails will span approximately 15

The playground is seperated into three age

miles in length. Many seasonal activities occur

groups; Infants/Toddlers, Preschool, and School

on the trails allowing the center to be more in-

ages. Fall zones beneath all of the playground

volved in social and community activities.

equipment are covered in a synthetic grass with



Primrose School Houston, TX




ouston’s Upper Kirby neighborhood is all about connecting with the community.

The former site of this day care, nestled between Richmond Avenue and Levy Park, was once a large rug store and dance studio before we converted it into a space that was appropriate for childcare. The stucco façade and street front does not give much away, the only hint that it is a childcare center is the signage and the school bus parked near the entry. A surprise is revealed as you pull into the parking lot; you park under a playground. Due to the small footprint of the location, outdoor space was very limited. An unused parking deck was transformed into a playground that overlooks Levy Park. A ramp leading up to the deck was removed completely to provide space for younger children to play at ground level. The solution of approaching the rear door as a Front Entry enabled the school to have a safe and secure entry away from the busy street. Having been remodeled multiple times, the existing floor had many different levels. We started by leveling the flooring, then designed deep bulkhead window wells to allow daylight in while still providing ceiling space for the updated mechanical system. Locating the Kitchen close to the street made adding the necessary utility connections less costly and placing classrooms around the perimeter of the building took advantage of window locations. The remaining result was a central space ideal for an Indoor Gym. This play room sets the stage for exercise when weather is poor and hosts seasonal parties, specialized classes, and teacher training events.




to a beautifully dŃ igned childcare building? Start searching for the property of your dreams. With the right support and the necessary tools, your childcare vision can become reality.



Home sweet home away from home. EXPECT MORE FROM YOUR CHILDCARE CENTER.



plug. ‘word of mouth’ has potential to be electrifyingly effective. Thank you for your continued business and support. Your assistance in generating new clients for our business is always appriciated.

Calbert Design Group, LLC Rebecca Calbert, AIA, LEED AP Owner, Principal Architect 2950 Cherokee St., NW, Suite 600 Kennesaw, GA 30144 678-398-7744

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