Wallingford Preschool

Designing playful solutions, thoughtfully

The Exploration Academy (TEA) is a creative and progressive preschool that opened its doors in 2010, in the historic Wallingford Center – a mixed use complex that served as an elementary school in the early 1900s.

TEA expanded over the next several years to occupy five adjacent tenant spaces. The design scope for this project required us to create separate spaces for older and younger children that would be visually-connected and flexible to merging for shared experiences. We sought playful solutions to functional requirements, such as suspending acoustic “eggs” beneath the air handling units for noise control.

The exiting requirements dictated a spacious recessed opening from the corridor with two entry points. We saw new opportunities, converting this space into an anteroom that serves as a store for school supplies as well as a reception area for students; entry is through a Dutch door fitted onto a painted tree!

Economy and appropriateness both guided our design for this project – much of the original lighting was reused; school house pendants were added across the space, acknowledging the original purpose of this building, and baths were stacked as new space was added above the original rooms. Respecting the fabric of the interior mall, the corridor walls maintain the proportion of established openings. Privacy of children’s areas along the corridor is addressed by careful placement of translucent glass.