Page D1.1 . 24 September 2003                     
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    Oasis for Children

    by Michael J. Crosbie

    Creating a vibrant, challenging, and engaging environment is at the very heart of designing a childcare center. Should the architecture differ for children who are homeless?

    Seeking answers to that question guided the design for the Tenderloin Childcare Center, located in one of San Francisco's most deprived neighborhoods. The result, by Gelfand RNP Architects, is an oasis of safety for 72 children who come from homeless and formerly homeless families.

    The design supports early-childhood development with bright colors and interesting surfaces. It is also a place, as the architects describe it, "of security, shelter, and respite from the stresses of family life in the Tenderloin."

    The 16,000-square-foot (1,500-square-meter) center occupies a mid-block site surrounded on three sides by other buildings. The building had formerly served as a film vault and, more recently, a gymnasium. Its burly character allowed the stripping away of the remnants of various renovations over the years, revealing the building's substantive concrete structure.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    The Tenderloin Childcare Center, by Gelfand RNP Architects, serves the children of San Francisco's homeless families.
    Photo: Donna Kempner

    ArchWeek Image

    The gross-motor activity room on the ground floor is a safe, padded gymnasium.
    Photo: Donna Kempner

     

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