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Herbert Beckhard Frank Richlan & Associates, Architects

Overview: Completed in 2005, this new 19,200 square foot public day care facility accommodates children of a variety of ages: toddlers, children 4-5 years old and after-school children 6-12 years old. The three-story Center is largely devoted to classrooms, but also includes administrative offices, facility support rooms, ground level and rooftop play areas and a kitchen. The lively principal façade is of glazed brick in strong primary colors: yellow, red, blue and green. The siting, massing and configuration of the building were developed to maximize the amount of ground level play area. As a community resource, the Center visually opens itself to the neighborhood. Mi Casita (2004), a site-specific sculpture by Dominican-American artist Moses Ros, was commissioned and created for the Center’s front courtyard through New York City’s Percent for Art Program. It serves as a playhouse and recalls the site’s history as a community garden.

Sustainable Features: With children’s well-being at heart, the design of the Williamsburg Center prioritizes a healthy indoor environment. Extensive natural daylighting brightens the interior, and green materials were selected after a rigorous review of their potential to emit toxins or volatile organic compounds. Natural light, introduced in several ways, conserves energy by reducing the use of electric lighting, and enhances the quality of the learning environment. Large windows at each classroom allow light into the front of the building and provide views to the outside. Light shelves reflect natural light from bands of horizontal strip windows, near the ceiling, to the far reaches of the classroom spaces within. A glazed interior light well, toward the rear of the site, extends from the roof to the ground level. It introduces daylight to the inner core of the facility, which is walled-in at the rear and on both sides by neighboring buildings built to the lot lines.

Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. Size: 19,200 gross square feet square feet on small urban site of less than one-fifth acre. Construction cost of
$6,350,000. Building completion March 2005 (Design commenced 1999).

Client Agencies: NYC Agency for Child Development; NYC Department of Design & Construction.

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Sustainable Site

Neighborhood scale and culture reinforced
Urban Heat Island Effect mitigated
Nighttime light pollution reduced
Street tree health and longevity enhanced

Light-colored, high-reflectance roofing
Urban setting near public transportation
Native, drought-resistant plants
Structural soils used


Water Efficiency

Potable water use reduced in building

Low-flow fixtures, flow restrictors



Energy use less than baseline New York State Energy Conservation Code
Ozone depletion reduced
System-operations integrated

Daylighting for all regularly occupied spaces
Light shelves for sun control and sun penetration deep into the building
High-performance lighting with occupancy controls
Compact building massing
Operable windows
Envelope improved with insulation and high-performance glass
Energy Star® appliances
Commissioning of all systems


Material Conservation

Construction & demolition waste – approximately 50% diverted from landfill
Recycled materials emphasized
Local products given preference
Rapidly renewable products used

Major materials targeted for recycled content, including glass tiles and panels,
carpet, rubber flooring, recycled composite ceilings, fly-ash in concrete, steel,
gypsum board, and toilet partitions
Rapidly renewable products included bamboo millwork and linoleum flooring
Furniture selected prioritized recycled materials, local products, recycled and
biodegradable fabrics
Construction and demolition waste sorted at off-site facilit


Healthy Interiors

Daylight maximized and views outside captured
Optimized fresh air quantities
Reduced exposure to toxins, volatile organic compounds, urea formaldehyde
Occupant-controlled lighting, heating and cooling

Light well to bring in natural light to interior hallway and offices
Light shelves and reflective surfaces increase daylight penetration
Specifications for low-emitting paints, carpets, adhesives, sealants, non-urea-
formaldehyde composite woods
Separate ventilation for interior service areas, walk-off grilles
Operable windows and occupant controls for thermal comfort


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