After Hurricane Katrina, the Ursuline Academy laundry building was transformed into an innovative early learning center, recognized for both its unique curriculum and design process. Working closely with the school’s administration, teachers, and staff, the design team developed 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 and mathematical forms into the entryway, doors, guardrails, and spatial volumes, the project transforms into a three-dimensional textbook. 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. 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.