Early Education Center, Santa Ana College

Santa Ana, California

New Child Development Center and Adult Instruction Facility


"This project is an oasis that enables students freedom and choice in a bright, warm environment. A safe and secure environment for children"

American School & University 2012 Jury
  • "This allows us to continue to educate and nurture our parents while they attend school, work and/or seek gainful employment as well as consolidate the location of our Human Development program, an instructional program that prepares our students for careers working with children." - Erlinda Martinez, President, Santa Ana College

  • The image of the new facility is inspired by mid-century ‘Eichler’ homes: modernist courtyard houses designed by leading ‘Case Study’ Architects.
  • A bridge between the institutional heart of the campus and the residential neighborhoods to the south and east, the facility was conceived of as a walled garden containing clustered, domestic scaled buildings containing preschool classrooms and supporting facilities.
  • The scale and character are domestic in nature and responsive to the neighborhood context but appropriately ‘modern’ in their campus setting.
  • An extension to the academic program of the college, the center features eight children’s classrooms, lecture rooms and opportunities for on-site observation.
  • The domestically scaled buildings enhance the child-oriented environment and provide a welcoming, nurturing and secure environment.
  • Each classroom opens onto its own semiprivate patio and the grounds are subdivided into a series of smaller age appropriate play spaces, each with toy and equipment storage.
  • Located on the second floor are faculty offices and a resource rooms for students and faculty. Two lecture rooms, with a folding wall in between, provide a multi-purpose teaching space which also provides an occasional venue for parent meetings.
  • Deep overhangs and porches provide additional outdoor program space providing welcome shade on sunny days and shelter from the rain during the winter months.
  • The academic program is housed in lecture rooms and offices on the second floor of a centrally located administration building that overlooks the gardens.
  • From this location, an elevated walkway above the play yards provides a central observation point to watch children at play.
  • There is a central garden, dominated by a gently mounded lawn and the series of perimeter courts and playgrounds which service each nursery and age group. The result is a seamless but varied array of indoor and outdoor spaces potent for childhood adventures.
  • A dry streambed running the length of the play yards is a shared feature for exploration and play.

people involved in this project:

Brent T. Miller

Los Angeles

John R. Dale

Pre K-12 + Community Education Design Studio