Families Forward Learning Center

Pasadena, California

Child Development and Adult Learning Center


"They thoughtfully listened to the programmatic needs for the building and responded with a creative and innovative design."

Sarah E. Orth, Director of Development, Families Forward Learning Center
  • “Green building falls in line with our organization’s philosophy and practices, so it made sense. But we didn’t realize how lovely it would actually be until we moved in, It was a huge bonus." Sue Kajawa, Executive Director of Families Forward Learning Centerb

  • Front entry to FFLC - The organization makes a concerted effort to use the building as a learning tool. An example of this is the highly visible placement of the building’s vertical/horizontal photovoltaics that provide twenty percent of the facility’s electricity.
  • Interior corridor showing glass sliding doors on classrooms - The visitors can move through the space unobtrusively and be aware of what is going on without disturbing the activity. Natural light pours into the central space and surrounding classrooms from clerestory windows wrapping around three sides of the column.
  • Interior hall - The front of the building is a sun-filled entry way office space for the Center’s employees, a small library, a resting room, and a large adult classroom that has moveable partitions. The design kept the existing load bearing exposed brick wall in the front room, which gives the entry a warm, inviting feeling.
  • Interior image of classroom with large garage door that opens to outdoor play area - The 10,000 square foot facility was completely gutted and renovated.
  • Huge sliding glass doors at the corner of each classroom are designed to blur the boundaries between dedicated instruction and play space and a large communal play area in between. When the doors are opened, the central space can expand to overlap the surrounding classrooms. When they are closed, the doors still provide clear visibility.
  • There are two kitchens in the center of the building, one for adult activities and the other to prepare snacks for the children. The main kitchen is spacious and comfortable; the true “heart” of the building and plays a central role in the adult programs.
  • Exterior play area - Included in the comprehensive redevelopment of the site was the transformation of half of the asphalt parking lot into a safe and colorful play area.
  • Interior view of classroom to outdoor play area - The south wall was punctured, opening the building up to the exterior to create flow between the indoor/outdoor play areas. Emphasis was placed on trying to incorporate as much natural light and natural elements into the design to keep the space open and welcoming.
  • Not only is the facility a sustainable and healthy facility, but the design allows inherent flexibility for a variety of activities and programs for different age groups within the same set of spaces which is something the center vitally needed to provide a high-quality learning environment.

related Publication:

Green With Possibilities

tags: Learn

people involved in this project:

John R. Dale

Pre K-12 + Community Education Design Studio

Sean Bani

Electrical Engineering Leader