The Flance Early Learning Center is the result of a process of development in response to the need for a Pre-K educational center in the Murphy Park neighborhood development in North St. Louis City. The center is a partnership between several players participating at the neighborhood scale. The fact that the Center is both an early childhood education center and a healthcare center is unique among similar projects nationally. The Center is an expansion of that interest in the education of neighborhood residents.
The facility enrolls 164 children 0-5 years of age, providing daycare and instruction, health services, outdoor play space, and a dining education and experience. It includes a full-service and demonstration kitchen that educates parents on how to prepare healthy meals for their children while utilizing produce grown from the integrated onsite community garden. The facility also provides space for health screening for non-enrolled children and neighborhood parents, sited at the main access point, along with classroom space that can be used for community events or parental instruction and faculty development.
The siting of the building allows the structure to act as a barrier to the public streets while providing all classrooms direct access to the age-appropriate outdoor place space. The building articulation combines an abstraction of organic tree-like facade with the more rigid urban forms found surrounding the facility. The use of perforated metal gives the sense of filtered light, shading the south and west facing glass as trees provide shade to the occupants below. The interior utilizes a more sophisticated color palate and geometry that give both light and energy to the space while allowing the building to remain as a canvas for children to create and interact.