North Kansas City Early Education Center

The project accommodates North Kansas City Schools’ growing Early Education offerings. The adaptive reuse of an existing building offers a nurturing environment for approximately 900 early learners aged 3-5, including many with special needs.


DLR Group

Practice Area


North Kansas City Schools


The Challenge

The challenge was to take an existing big box store and reimagine it into a magical and inviting space for early learners. The space was limited in regard to exterior windows so making the interior corridors activated with limited outside lighting was a big challenge from the start.

Project Vision

DLR Group’s design of North Kansas City Schools Early Education Center responds to a unique group of early learners. Both the need to consolidate the District’s Early Childhood Special Education program in one place, coupled with growing early childhood offerings in general, led the district to pursue adaptive reuse of an existing Hobby Lobby & Price Chopper.

Approach to the facility.

Michael Robinson Photography

Butterfly archway.

Michael Robinson Photography

Design + Execution

The project was an integrated design solution where multiple disciplines from the firm combined to create a learning environment that inspires both student and faculty. The project was designed in partnership with the client and multiple sessions were held to make sure the staff’s vision for the perfect learning environment was established and realized.

Friends of the forest.

Michael Robinson Photography


Michael Robinson Photography

Exploration Center.

Michael Robinson Photography

The teachers table.

Michael Robinson Photography

1st Day Storybook

Michael Robinson Photography

Project Details
Well balanced sense of physical structures, color blocking, and seating to create distinct spaces. Activation of the ceiling with different lighting schemes invites children in an elevated space to learn through play.
Juror 1
A skillfully executed interaction of the spatial environment and graphics. Environmental graphics enhance the user's experience of the space sublimely. A pristine example of spatial environmental quality. Color and nature interpreted in environmental graphics create a respectful dialog with kids.
Juror 2
Design Team

Adam Wells (experiential graphic design leader)
Chris Cox (experiential graphic designer)
Ian Kilpatrick (architect)
Stacy Davis (interior designer)
Robyn O’Roark (project manager)


DLR Group (architecture, planning)
McCownGordon (contractor)
Digital Imaging (graphics)

Photo Credits

Michael Robinson Photography

Open Date

January 2021