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Samuel Smith ECC
Samuel Smith Early Childhood Center in Burlington, NJ, was the state’s first Early Childhood Center (ECC). The NJEDA assumed MMA’s contract with the City of Burlington Board of Education for this ECC, making MMA the first architecture firm in the State of New Jersey to have a contract assumed by the Authority.
The ECC addition was modularly built and finished in the factory, delivered to the site and installed. The modular units consist of twelve classrooms complete with barrier free bathrooms, sinks and built in storage cabinets, and supplies the additional facility space required for Burlington City to implement full day, full year programs. The footprint of the ECC was approximately 80’x 213′ (15,444 s.f.).
Each classroom is 950 square feet as required by NJDOE, and each contains a large area for instruction and a separate area allocated for play and exploration, with a maximum capacity of 15 children for each classroom.
The main entrance is inviting and playful and contains a means of alerting the teachers and children of visitors. MMA made this possible by introducing playful curves and color at each entrance. As you enter the center, your eye is automatically directed towards the classrooms via a colorful tile pattern. A security sign-in station sits attached to the wall immediately in front of your path. This security measure provides a means of tracking all visitors entering the center.
The interior environment is enhanced even further by the juxtaposition of the columns and large room numbers over wooden panels at each classroom entrance. Even when a child is outside the classroom, the design of the center’s architecture enhances the child’s thought and aspirations. The primary colors provided on the floor, doorframes, and columns alternate as the children and staff continue down the main corridor, establishing a point of reference for the users.
When MMA developed the classroom layout, it was critical to understand the intent and use of the space. In accordance with our discussion with the District, we determined that other components such as a wall mounted drying rack, easel, mobile listening center, big book storage, sand & water table, builder block sets, and puppet sets were as important as the desks and chairs to develop the minds of young children.
MMA selected all colors and finishes within the classrooms, corridors, and toilet and kitchenette areas. We coordinated these selections with the District by providing a series of storyboards that outlined the finishes and their applications.
Playtime at the exterior was as important if not more important than playtime within the building. Although the Samuel Smith School also housed students in grades K-4, MMA designated areas specifically for the new Pre-K students that contained new tot equipment, large play equipment, and a series of new swing sets. Underneath all of the equipment, we installed a safety surface for the children’s protection. The District finally moved into this facility on January 13, 2003 and on February 1, 2003 the District had a ribbon cutting, open to the public.
The ECC opened in mid-January 2003 and began running full day classes.