Early Childhood Centers
Statewide, NJ

Early childhood or pre-school education is a complex new form of educational socialization. It involves the care and nurturing of children – meeting the health, safety, nutritional and emotional needs necessary for their future educational success. The challenges involve a very humane sense of purpose and vision beyond traditional school based models. Young children are focused on the present and as such are less cognitive and function oriented than adults. Thus, design should create a canvas for the child’s and teacher’s creative living and learning as an expression of their imagination.


Building prototypes were developed to leverage consistency in quality and design standards enhanced by centralized procurement economies. A planning module approach facilitated the application of the prototype to a variety of physical settings and program sizes, providing sufficient variety to distinguish individual facilities and avoid a “cookie-cutter” look. Some built examples illustrate the successful application of the prototype design approach in the quality of the facilities and their ability to meet budget and delivery goals.

The basic organizational strategy facilitates adaptability to different site conditions while allowing sufficient space for outdoor space and environmental awareness. Paired classroom modules with individual student ancillary spaces allow for operational flexibility and backup support. They provide the totality of the immediate child scaled environment required for the day’s activities. Corridors and service areas are further optimized to enhance their multipurpose use. The prototype approach further helped develop guidelines for many early childhood centers. These physical guidelines have been adopted in part by the State of NJ in their regulations.


ELIZABETH SCHOOLS - Prototype applications for new construction under state mandated building program. Planning module approach allowed for prototype adaptability to two different sites and facility feasibility analysis of multiple others. Environmental awareness in a lively, kid-scaled environment

Board of Education - Elizabeth, NJ
Donald Steward Center - $13-million 300 student facility
Martin Luther King Jr. Center - $13-million 300 student facility

CLIENT: Board of Education - Elizabeth, NJ

ARCHITECT: HACBM Architects and Engineers; Frank X. Moya, Principal in Charge of Design

COST: $13-million per school

PUERTO RICAN ACTION BOARD - Prototype application to adaptive rehabilitation of an existing windowless warehouse. With a capacity for 220 students, this early application demonstrated the flexibility of the modular plan approach in accommodating existing conditions. The design was oriented to maximize southern exposure through borrowed light access across the multipurpose corridor which together with the deep recessed windows provides shade control. Full height windows gave kids shared enjoyment of exterior views of the playground.

CLIENT: Puerto Rican Action Board – New Brunswick, NJ

COST: $2-million

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