Navy’s newest childcare center designed to be ‘home-like’ by domusstudio architecture

As part of the design/build team with general contractor T.B. Penick & Sons, Inc., domusstudio architecture provided planning and design services for the 25,866-square-foot Patrick Wade Child Development Center (CDC)
Aug. 24, 2011 - PRLog -- The Navy’s newest childcare center opened recently in Point Loma, designed per military guidelines by domusstudio architecture to feel more like a home than an institution.

As part of the design/build team with general contractor T.B. Penick & Sons, Inc., domusstudio architecture provided planning and design services for the 25,866-square-foot Patrick Wade Child Development Center (CDC). Named for an American war hero who died in Iraq in 2007, the new facility is state-of-the-art but also “home-like” for 72 employees and 218 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years.

“The Navy’s guidelines call for us to design through the eyes of a child,” said John Pyjar of domusstudio architecture. “We are encouraged to avoid an institutional approach and to create an appropriate, well thought out and attractive environment. The space should be inviting and feel like home.”

The lobby of the new CDC exhibits this intention with an accessible, child-size scale and subtle earth tones that encourage creativity. The entry’s gabled ceiling with paper lantern-like lamps hanging at varied lengths accentuates a family room feeling. Nature-inspired artwork also lends to the calming ambience of the reception area.

In addition to its home-like design, the new CDC showcases: Southern California regional architecture that blends in with the surrounding Liberty Station neighborhoods; security measures that assure the safety of military families; and LEED Gold sustainability.

Southern California regional architecture

Beneath its red clay tile roof, the single-story CDC has 17 classrooms, a reception area, kitchen, laundry room and administrative offices. According to domusstudio architecture principal John Pyjar, half round arches consistent with surrounding Liberty Station buildings grace the building’s exterior. Design accents include an intricate bubble mosaic of inlaid artwork, offering a whimsical touch to the entrance.

The CDC has four age-appropriate outdoor playgrounds and two shared outdoor areas.  Playground amenities include a garden, a climbing wall, play structures, water play and an outdoor reading area.

Every space is designed by domusstudio architecture, interior designers Haro Rutledge Design and landscape designers Deneen Powell Atelier, Inc., for accessibility and to provide a variety of age appropriate play experiences in a safe environment. The play areas – one each for infants, pre-toddlers, toddlers and preschoolers – are separated with fencing to provide unique and independent educational and play experiences.  

Designed to assure the safety of military families

The main wall of the lobby is dominated by two large-screen televisions tuned to activity from classrooms and playgrounds throughout the facility. Each classroom was designed to provide good visibility for security, while also maintaining privacy for children’s restrooms.

Other security aspects of the building’s design, per the military’s minimum antiterrorism standards, include: adequate separation of the building and the parking lot; parking lot restrictions pertaining to parking and circulation; low-level landscaping and playground equipment that discourages any type of concealment within 33 feet of the building; progressive collapse avoidance building techniques; specific utility installation and distribution; and others.

“At domusstudio we understand completely the military’s critical need for a child development center designed so that Navy personnel can do their jobs knowing their loved ones at home are kept safe,” Pyjar explained.

LEED Gold sustainability

The new Patrick Wade CDC has several sustainable features that contribute to the building’s eligibility for Gold certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. These include: low water landscaping with smart controller, water-saving fixtures, natural day lighting, and energy efficient lights and appliances. In addition, more than 80 percent of construction debris was diverted to recycling.

Built for approximately $9.4 million, the Patrick Wade CDC was completed within three years, alleviating some of the deficit in childcare availability for local active duty military personnel.

“Working closely with T.B. Penick, we succeeded in meeting the military’s goals to complete the project in a timely, budget-conscious manner,” said Pyjar, a LEED accredited professional. The Patrick Wade CDC is the third Navy design/build project for domusstudio architecture with T.B. Penick, and their fourth CDC is now under construction at Camp Pendleton. “Utilizing our firm’s 25 years of project cost management strategies, we get the most project for each dollar spent and consistently maintain budgets.”

Founded in 1986 as Dominy + Associates, domusstudio architecture is a San Diego architectural design firm specializing in religious facilities, fire stations, educational buildings, senior housing and custom residential projects. For more information about projects and services, call 619-692-9393 or visit

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