Dolton Park District New Early Learning Center

The Dolton Park District recently embarked on an exciting initiative to significantly improve early learning in the Village of Dolton. The Village of Dolton showed significant need for full-day early education and child care services, and the Dolton Park District planned for a new Early Learning Center to meet this need by serving 98 low-income children. Designed and built on a very modest budget, this 1-story 13,300 square foot masonry building reflects the character, culture and scale of the surrounding Park District Campus, while exhibiting the playful, welcoming and open design crucial to a successful center for children aged 6 weeks to12 years, their parents, and the surrounding community.

The program for the facility was to create a space that supports families by providing accessible, affordable, high-quality child care, and early education that encourages the social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of children.

Sustainable from the start

This LEED Gold Certified building is the sustainable flagship of the Park District Campus. The Early Learning Center was designed to meet the USGBC’s LEED for New Construction & Major Renovations within a modest project budget. This challenge was met through multiple cost-conscious energy efficient design strategies, such as an innovative design for a one-pipe geothermal heating/cooling system and an exterior envelope designed to have true continuous insulation.

The new Early Learning Center was planned to support a curriculum that incorporates learning about nature and teaching children to be stewards of the environment. Classes have space to grow their own herbs, vegetables and flowers in the onsite garden and observe nature in the Park District Park that surrounds the building and playground.

The Park District intends to use the building’s sustainable design features to maximize the Center’s Community Impact. There may be tours of the building and demonstrations of how vegetable gardens and recycling programs can be used in a residential context. The Large Motor Skills Room, Dining Room and Computer Lab may be available to community groups after hours.

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