Utah Valley University Wee Care Center

The new 13,550 s.f., 2-story Wee Care Center provides a much-needed resource for many of Utah Valley University students, helping them finish a degree and do so more quickly, thus improving their lives and the lives of their families. The Wee Care Center was founded in 2001, and a fundraising campaign to expand the center began in March 2012. This expansion has doubled capacity and now serves 120 children at any given time.  It now allows women who would not be able to go back to school without child care to get an education.  For many students, this center is a lifeline and integral in increasing higher education opportunities for women.  Construction for the center’s expansion was supported entirely by private funds, including a $2 million donation from the Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation, as well as more than 100 other contributions, according to university officials. The building has been completely created by donors in the community, the first building on campus to do so.

The inspiration and primary design goal for this project was to identify and incorporate any opportunity to nurture the emotional, psychological, and intellectual development of children in all stages of their early development providing a more playful building while meeting campus requires. Using campus standards of brick and concrete, an expressive, geometric elevation was developed.  Brick was utilized in a more unique way and was elevated to the second floor, wrapped in a metal edge.  The intent was to articulate the elevation and materials in a new way while providing a playful nature to the architecture, within a simple building.   The form, materials, color and transparency revealing the spirited texture on the inside, serves to intrigue the children and entice them in to the building.  The bright yellow and silver shrouds extend past the simplicity of the building reaching out to the children with color and playfulness and further expressing the unique nature of this place.  Thoughtful landscape design and outdoor discovery play areas are securely contained and seamlessly incorporated with the building design.

Color was used to stimulate brain and motor development and applied carefully by age, in specifically designated classrooms.  The overall palette was developed to support the function of the building, avoid over and under stimulation, to create positive emotional and physiological effects.  Color has an impact on moods, mental clarity and energy level and can increase productivity.  Carefully placed color was used to aid in wayfinding and used to help children intuitively know where “their classroom was” creating a system of order.  Entry eyebrows into each classroom are wrapped in bold color, each varying by age group.  Ceilings were treated with materials, texture, color and elements to inspire.  Beautiful natural and painted plywood clouds were designed to add interest at the ceiling height and bring further imagination to the classroom while reinforcing the prominent color of the room.  Colorful banners were placed in community ceiling areas with “fire fly” light pendants reaching down through them creating mystique and whimsy stimulating creativity and feeding the imagination.  “Word walls” were developed in specific areas to stimulate the mind and creativity.  This was done by cutting in to and punching out of the gyp board providing a three dimensional contemplative detail to the wall.

Furniture was selected and placed to coordinate with room color and function of each classroom.  The “living room” or lobby included beautiful antiques donated by the Barbara Barrington Jones foundation.  Classic pieces of furniture with bold, youthful color and patterns blend the old and the new in a beautiful and intriguing way providing all the comforts of home.  Bright, creative art and sculptural elements were layered in to further inspire the children.

The center is an imaginative building inside and out and in every detail meant to captivate the children providing inspiration, and giving them a space to explore, learn and grow.

Utah Valley University Wee Care Center
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