Oasis for Children
The design captures new space at the building's rooftop, which had been previously uninhabited. The architects created a playground in the air, with play equipment, benches, a sandbox, a small bathroom, and a little bit of green with a postage-stamp lawn and some small potted trees. The rooftop has all the charm and fun of a well-designed playground, without the ground.
At the center of the rooftop, an open-air structure (walls, roof, and bright red columns) shelters a small, elevated stage with an access ramp, over which hovers a round skylight — another connection to the sky. One imagines the productions that happen on this stage — scaled to the preschool actors, who play out their fantasies, protected high above the Tenderloin.
If we are indeed shaped into adults by the places we inhabit as children, then one can hope that this project will help repair some of the damage that its tiny occupants have suffered. The Tenderloin Childcare Center shows how a careful, humane design can provide a part-time home to help ease the lives of those who most need shelter.
Michael J. Crosbie is editor-in-chief of Faith & Form, a senior associate with Steven Winter Associates, and a contributing editor to ArchitectureWeek.
Owner: Compass Community Services
Service Provider: Tenderloin Childcare Center
Architect: Gelfand RNP Architects
Structural Engineer: Triangle Engineering
Mechanical Engineer: MHC Engineers
Electrical Engineer: Pete O. Lapid & Associates
Landscape Architects: The Miller Company
Play Consultant: Susan Herrington
General Contractor: LC General Engineering and Construction
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Aerial view of the Tenderloin Childcare Center, by Gelfand RNP Architects, showing play structures on the building's roof.
Photo: Susan Herrington
Roof plan, Tenderloin Childcare Center.
Image: Gelfand RNP Architects
The rooftop stage, with a circular skylight above.
Photo: Donna Kempner
The rooftop play area, viewed from the stage, showing the sandbox (left) and grass lawn.
Photo: Ken Rackow
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