Porter-Leath Early Childhood Academy

  • area / size 31,700 sqft
  • Completed 2017
  • RDG Planning & Design was tasked with creating an engaging space for babies and children to thrive at the Porter-Leath Early Childhood Academy in Memphis, Tennessee.

    The Early Childhood Academy provides a safe environment for disadvantaged community children ages six weeks to five years to form nurturing bonds with parents, teachers and classmates while they explore, learn and develop.

    To maximize the academy’s efficiency, the plan organizes into two linear bars containing classrooms, and community and support spaces loaded along a central corridor. The linear program bars bend, slip, and extrude to weave the building with its site, provide direct exterior views, and create access to outdoor learning environments. Diffused skylights located along the central corridor provide natural light to gross and fine motor activity spaces and borrow natural light from to corridor to the back of each classroom.

    During the project’s visioning and programming phase, community members challenged the academy’s design to embrace both the natural environments of the region’s rivers and forests as well as the vibrant colors known to the city.

    Warm and cool colors, textures, and graphics create organizational elements that weave throughout the exterior and interior and define classroom neighborhoods, activity spaces, shared community spaces and playground environments. These bright and energetic learning environments provide an abundance of opportunities for interactive, engaging and playful learning for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

    ArchitectRDG Planning & Design
    Design Team: Ed Buglewicz, Amanda Walters
    Contractor: Flintco
    PhotographyTom Kessler