LPA Designs School Connecting Preschoolers with Nature

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Innovative concept creates outdoor learning environments for preschool students focused on sustainability and supporting early brain development.

Preschool, Environmental, School

The 8,000 square-foot, three-classroom preschool is an extension of the ENC mission to promote nature-centered education.

The preschool is designed to be a living laboratory and educational tool for conservation.

Construction starts on a new nature-based preschool facility for the Environmental Nature Center (ENC), designed to create a hands-on, outdoor learning environment and demonstrate sustainable values for preschool students.

Designed by Irvine, California-based LPA, the 8,000-square-foot, three-classroom preschool is an extension of the ENC’s mission to promote nature-centered education. Nature-based preschools, which are growing in popularity around the country, have been shown to support early brain development, healthy living and social skills in early childhood.

LPA’s design creates spaces designed to foster a connection to the outdoors, where students will spend most of their time. Outdoor spaces will serve as teaching centers, from a stone abacus to a landscape of drought-tolerant plants, which will provide a living lesson in sustainability. Boulders, logs and tree stumps will be used for seating. An organic garden will provide teaching opportunities and food supplies
for students.

“The preschool is designed to be a living laboratory and educational tool for conservation,” says LPA Principal Rick D’Amato.

“In an effort to increase environmental awareness and appreciation, the ENC Preschool will provide natural exploration and meet developmental needs or early childhood,” says ENC Director Bo Glover. “We already have more than 500 who have shown interest for enrollment when the school opens.”

The number of nature-based early childhood education environments in the United States has grown by 66 percent since 2016, according to the Natural Start Alliance. Natural learning environments support creativity and problem-solving skills, increase physical activity, and improve nutrition, eyesight and social relationships in the most critical phase of development for children, according to industry studies.

The ENC preschool, projected to be complete in 2019, is designed to meet LEED Platinum, Net Zero qualifications and complement the existing ENC facility. The ENC was the first LEED Platinum building in Orange County.

About LPA:

A pioneer in sustainable design, LPA provides services in architecture, engineering, interior design, landscape architecture and planning. With nearly 400 employees across offices in California and Texas, LPA delivers integrated design solutions for K-12 and higher education facilities, civic, recreational, corporate and healthcare developments to enhance the human experience. As one of the country’s only design firms with a dedicated research team, LPA draws on rigorous data and analysis to create environments that improve people’s lives. For more information, visit http://www.lpainc.com/.

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Carina Calhoun
LPA Inc.
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