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Located in the heart of Coney Island, the Charles F. Murphy Early Childhood Development Center is Catholic Charities’ new Head Start Center provides Pre-K education for 85 local children. Replacing a childhood development center facility destroyed during Hurricane Sandy,  the building serves as a symbol of neighborhood revitalization. Elevated above the flood plain, resiliency, sustainability, and active design inform the design of the building.

Stepped roofs allow for outdoor gardens, learning spaces, and play areas for each age group. The Center fosters the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of preschoolers in a safe environment guided by the philosophy of the Montessori approach to early childhood education.

Located in the heart of Coney Island, the Charles F. Murphy Early Childhood Development Center is Catholic Charities’ new Head Start Center provides Pre-K education for 85 local children. Replacing a childhood development center facility destroyed during Hurricane Sandy,  the building serves as a symbol of neighborhood revitalization. Elevated above the flood plain, resiliency, sustainability, and active design inform the design of the building.

Stepped roofs allow for outdoor gardens, learning spaces, and play areas for each age group. The Center fosters the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of preschoolers in a safe environment guided by the philosophy of the Montessori approach to early childhood education.

As part of its community-focused mission, the new center provides social services in addition to its pre-school function. The ground floor of the building is designed for shared public use, with a daylit, double-height multipurpose space used as a gym by children during the day, and for community events afterhours. The expansive lobby serves as a pre-function space, showcasing artwork by children as well as local artists. The center is as much a community building as it is a pre-school.

As part of its community-focused mission, the new center provides social services in addition to its pre-school function. The ground floor of the building is designed for shared public use, with a daylit, double-height multipurpose space used as a gym by children during the day, and for community events afterhours. The expansive lobby serves as a pre-function space, showcasing artwork by children as well as local artists. The center is as much a community building as it is a pre-school.

The new center is guided by the Montessori educational philosophy that children’s most important learning occurs outside the classroom. This philosophy is the main design driver for the building, organizing instructional space around play roof terraces and blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors. The landscaping of these play roofs is inspired by Coney Island’s sand dunes and native grasses, incorporating nature into children’s everyday learning. Light-filled classrooms have expansive wall-to-wall windows, strengthening their relationship to the play roofs and beckoning children outside.

The new center is guided by the Montessori educational philosophy that children’s most important learning occurs outside the classroom. This philosophy is the main design driver for the building, organizing instructional space around play roof terraces and blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors. The landscaping of these play roofs is inspired by Coney Island’s sand dunes and native grasses, incorporating nature into children’s everyday learning. Light-filled classrooms have expansive wall-to-wall windows, strengthening their relationship to the play roofs and beckoning children outside.

Coney Island Rebuilds

The new Charles F. Murphy Early Childhood Development Center is a story of a school’s rebirth and a neighborhood’s indomitable resilience in the aftermath of one of New York’s worst natural disasters. In 2012, when Hurricane Sandy’s flood waters receded after decimating the Coney Island neighborhood and along with it the former Madeleine Jones Head Start Center, Catholic Charities searched for a new location to rebuild their pre-school. The new site they selected—in the heart of Coney Island—was not only a practical choice, but a symbolic one: this community was going to rebuild!

The new Charles F. Murphy Early Childhood Development Center is a story of a school’s rebirth and a neighborhood’s indomitable resilience in the aftermath of one of New York’s worst natural disasters. In 2012, when Hurricane Sandy’s flood waters receded after decimating the Coney Island neighborhood and along with it the former Madeleine Jones Head Start Center, Catholic Charities searched for a new location to rebuild their pre-school. The new site they selected—in the heart of Coney Island—was not only a practical choice, but a symbolic one: this community was going to rebuild!

Resiliency

The school is designed using the optimum solar orientation, maximum daylighting, and a highly efficient and compact layout – thereby minimizing the amount of energy and materials used. It is also sufficiently robust to withstand future weather calamities. The entire building is clad in a durable fiber cement board rainscreen and elevated above the flood plain. Rather than becoming a hardened fortress, the building is open and welcoming, with its entrance ramps drawing visitors toward the lobby and the cascading main stair spilling out to greet passersby. The building’s deep cantilever shelters the entrance from rain and marks the school’s presence from all around.

The school is designed using the optimum solar orientation, maximum daylighting, and a highly efficient and compact layout – thereby minimizing the amount of energy and materials used. It is also sufficiently robust to withstand future weather calamities. The entire building is clad in a durable fiber cement board rainscreen and elevated above the flood plain. Rather than becoming a hardened fortress, the building is open and welcoming, with its entrance ramps drawing visitors toward the lobby and the cascading main stair spilling out to greet passersby. The building’s deep cantilever shelters the entrance from rain and marks the school’s presence from all around.

Location
Brooklyn, NY
Area
17,000 sf
Completion
2019
Clients
Catholic Charities Brooklyn & Queens
View Project Facts
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Area
17,000 sf
Completion
2019
Clients
Catholic Charities Brooklyn & Queens
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