Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation
Springfield, MA
Completion date
December 2019

An engaging early education facility that encourages learning through strong connections to nature and community. 

Serving young children and their families with a full-day, year-round program, Educare Springfield is one of only 24 facilities of its kind across the United States and the first of its kind in the state of Massachusetts. 

Situated in one of Springfield's most underserved areas, the school demonstrates what's possible when children have equal access to high-quality early education. RDG's design complements the surrounding architecture, including the adjacent Brookings Elementary School and nearby campus entry to Springfield College. Earth-toned brick and fiber cement juxtapose to create rich textural impressions and signify different uses of the spaces within. Tall, narrow windows allow for ample daylight while maintaining a high level of security.

Overhead planes carry through from the exterior to interior corridors, overlapping at key intersections to guide users through the building and create a rich spatial experience. The overall design for Educare Springfield is one that delivers a welcome, safe and secure space for learning, and encourages a strong connection to nature.

Exterior and interior spaces connecting with the community .
Outdoor spaces to engage exploratory, social and gross motor activities
Daylight interior piazza connecting with the outside learning environments
Educare Springfield in Springfield, Massachusetts. Photos by Thomas Grady.
Internal light-filled classroom court
In-between spaces foster interactions and discovery
Space to support learning and socialization outside the classroom
Defining spaces for community events.
Reinforcing the connection of adult and child spaces.

Educare Springfield’s donor recognition wall was designed through the eyes of a child and delivers a fun, engaging and interactive approach to honoring the generous individuals and organizations that made the facility possible. The client’s directive was simple: the display should be made from natural materials, in keeping with the rest of the building and designed for a child-friendly environment. Thus, RDG’s Experiential Designers approached the project from a child's perspective, imagining how children would want to interact with a display of this kind. 

The resulting design provides a fun, tactile and interactive experience for all ages that encourages exploration and learning through colorfully painted and naturally stained wooden blocks that can be rotated. Larger blocks at the top display the names of the donors and are geared toward adult interactivity, while smaller blocks at the bottom, accessible to children, twirl and spin to reveal the Educare logo and various animal drawings. Meant to grow through the years, some blocks are intentionally left blank to accommodate the addition of future donor names.