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Project File: Bakery converts to learning center

This project transformed an abandoned, run-down industrial bakery into a learning facility for at-risk, pre-kindergarten students in Champaign, Ill. It provides about 240 pupils with a nontraditional and kid-friendly place in which to learn.

Input from administrators and learning-center staff helped determine the facility's design. This collaborative effort resulted in a home-like atmosphere for the children. The design made the corridors resemble streets and staff offices resemble homes, with paned windows, unique paint colors and roofs. These vignettes, along with a bay window at the family center entry, establish a sense of neighborhood. They provide visual landmarks and a feeling of warmth and security.

The design also addressed educators' need for a gathering point. A family center in the middle of the building provides a place where parents can meet with teachers, participate in workshops, check out books and learning games, and gather for social events. The design successfully incorporated the learning center's values by creating an environment that supports the culture of the home.

The architect for this project is Bailey Edward Design (Chicago).

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