The use of colors is a dominant theme throughout the Ladue Early Childhood Center.
From the purple and green panels on the exterior to a technicolored tree sculpture, the center is anything but drab. And the first new building in the Ladue School District in decades is only weeks away from opening its doors to the public.
The center is being built on the campus of , which was purchased in April 2010 after voters approved a $32 million bond issue. The construction of the Early Childhood Center was also paid for with money raised through bonding.
According to a brochure from the Ladue School District, the center will feature programs for toddlers and children aged 3 to 5. The center will house afternoon programs that focus on science, geography, cooking and theater.
The building features over two dozen classrooms, a gym, an art room with a kiln and a reading room. Mike Noonan, who serves as director of Facilities and Grounds for the Ladue School District, said the building will also include a so-called “Big Room” that will provide numerous activities for youngsters.
“In here, we’ll have a structure built [that’s a] combination firehouse, theater for the kids to play in,” Noonan said. “There will be a water feature over there that’ll be a big table similar to the Magic House, if you’ve even been through there, they have a water feature as well.”
The building also makes an effort to be green, so to speak. Dan Behler, a project manager for SM Wilson, said there are numerous environmentally friendly features scattered throughout the building.
“We’ve got a lot of energy efficient designs built into the building,” Behler said. “The building itself is actually designed to get EnergyStar certification. So it’s got a lot of sustainable features … a lot of recycled materials.”
That includes an efficient heating and cooling system, which could save money on utility costs for the district in the long-term.
“What we tried to do a little differently is instead of just blindly doing everything sustainable, we tried to do things that were truly a benefit,” Behler added. “Energy efficiency, recycled materials, things like that. And just made things that were truly a benefit and that would provide a return for the cost of the district.”
Behler said the program costs were in the ballpark of between $12 million and $14 million. The raw construction costs were around $10 million.
The building is slated to open in September. Noonan said there’s a lot to be happy about regarding the new facility.
“The big things are: ahead of schedule, under budget and everybody got what they wanted,” Noonan said. “And that’s very unusual nowadays.”