UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Child Care Center at Hort Woods, the first LEED Platinum-certified building anywhere in the Penn State system, recently earned the Merit Award from the Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).
The award recognizes excellence in site design, and noted especially Hort Woods’ natural play area, which is seamlessly integrated into the woods.
“We are happy that the facility is being recognized for its purpose of providing children an environment to learn that also allows them to explore and connect with the outside world in a natural and healthy way,” said Holley Rochford, director of Human Resources’ Early Child Care Programs and Services.
The new Child Care Center at Hort Woods was dedicated on Sept. 23. The 21,500 square foot facility provides an enclosed and secure outdoor play space designed and constructed within the natural setting of Hort Woods on the University Park campus.
The custom play equipment that was the focus of the award was designed by studioMLA’s landscape/playscape team. Pashek + MTR, studioMLA Architects, and Robin Moore of Natural Learning Initiative worked together to design the natural play environment.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a designation administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) requiring intensive evaluation and verification.
Hort Woods was specifically designed to meet the highest level of sustainable building criteria and provide a superior child care facility, while reflecting the University’s understanding that interaction with nature is essential to children’s well-being and development.
Hort Woods incorporates many sustainable features, such as natural ventilation, the use of recycled materials, rainwater collection and reuse, and natural day-lighting to help conserve energy.
The project also showcases the use of locally salvaged stone, bricks and boulders, and required an extremely high degree of sensitivity to the large, historic oak trees on site.
The design team included Pashek + MTR. Ltd. (landscape architecture team); studioMLA Architects (architect/project lead); Robin Moore of Natural Learning Initiative (nature play consultant); Sweetland Engineering (civil engineer); Reese Engineering (MEP Engineer); and Leonard S. Fiore, Inc. (general contractor). The project team from Penn State included Gordon Turow, former director of campus planning and design; Katie Rountree, a construction administration specialist with the Office of Physical Plant; Linda Duerr, former director of the Child Development Laboratory; Derek Kalp, campus landscape architect, and Brian Phiel, supervisor of grounds maintenance.
To learn more about Hort Woods’ sustainable design, refer to the Penn State Today article, Penn State child care center awarded LEED certification.