Joplin Early Childhood Center

Practice Area


Joplin R-VII School District

Project Vision

The Joplin Early Childhood Center is a building designed from the perspective of the preschooler. The building was designed to support and stimulate a small child’s mental, social and emotional development. Scale, color and wayfinding were all designed from the child’s perspective, for example the rabbit holes being at ground level. These elements invoke a sense of discovery and exploration while providing added learning value and context to traditional spaces.

The integrated design approach succeeds in blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor learning. Spaces are brought to life by illustrated animals in their “natural” habitats. A central “Learning Grove” immerses children in a forest of trees and critters, similar to the feeling of being in their own backyard. Interior finishes such as green carpet squares were used to give children a soft “grassy” space to land, and a tricycle track is incorporated into the central commons reinforcing the students’ connection to the outdoors. The full spectrum of color is represented in finish highlights throughout the building to serve as wayfinding, helping students transition from one space to the next.

The result of the experiential design efforts is an unexpected place of discovery for children beginning their educational journey. The facility supports the critical developmental milestones of each unique learner. Gross motor skills, cognitive development and social/emotional needs are supported through sensory-rich experiences that connect learners during a time that positive association with school can create lifetime friendships and learning.

Project Details
Project Area

37,477 square feet

Project Budget

$9,253,216 USD