- Location New Orleans, LA
- Client Ursuline Academy
- Program PreK early learning center, drop-off and event pavilion
- Area 7,370 SF
- Project Team:
Concordia (Architect of Record)
Lamanna Engineering Consultants (Civil and Structural)
WDG Architects and Engineers (MEP)
Catco Inc. (Contractor)
Will Crocker (Photography)
Claire Bangser (Photography)
Ursuline Academy Early Learning Center
After Hurricane Katrina, the Ursuline Academy laundry building was transformed into an innovative early learning center, recognized for both its unique curriculum and synergistic design process. Working closely with the school’s administration, teachers, and staff, the design team developed both curricular and architectural concepts based on teaching principles of responsibility and community through exploration and discovery, modeled after the Reggio Emilia curriculum. By integrating biological forms and sacred geometry into the entryway, doors, guardrails, and spatial volumes, the project transforms into a three dimensional textbook. Bright colors and dynamic shapes engage students in a creative environment that they enthusiastically liken to Disney World.
The feature space is the double height Studio, which includes a conical “black box” theater, art center, science lab, and motor skills area. Colorful volumes and a wooden reading loft are nestled beneath a canopy of undulating wood elements, suspended lights, and painted ductwork, creating a dynamic space scaled for small children. Learning labs are arranged around a “Town Square” so the school feels like an educational village. Movable partitions enable reconfiguration for different activities and sliding barn doors connect other labs to the Studio. The lobby includes color changing lights and functions as a gallery for student artwork. Outside, a new entry tower and drop-off pavilion reference architectural elements of the historic campus.
The overwhelmingly positive feedback from teachers, students, and parents testifies to the project’s success in providing a stimulating, enriching early learning environment and in demonstrating the value of user engagement during the design process.