Photos courtesy of Carlos R. Hernandez and Studio One Eleven.
On Friday, Children Today Executive Director Tonya Burns was glowing as she walked within the courtyard of the organization’s brand new, LEED-certified EcoHouse.
She smiled as she greeted the Long Beach leaders, architects and board members responsible for the building’s construction, which was built to house the organization’s day care services for the children of homeless people and those who have been involved in the city’s foster system.
“If I had a dollar every time I heard ‘wow,’ from the parents and kids,” she said. “The children absolutely, literally love it.”
A building with a low-slanting roof borders an inner courtyard filled with soft, bright-green fake grass and more classrooms. Around the corner of the last classroom sits a beautifully built playground, with a soft rolling hill, slides, a sandlot and areas to climb.
“We set about creating a lot of little outdoor places for activities for kids,” said Michael Bohn, the design director and senior principal at Studio One Eleven. “We wanted to make it a nurturing, safe environment for kids.”
The new building will serve as a place to provide trauma-informed care to children of Long Beach who have experienced childhood difficulties. The organization is part of the City of Long Beach’s Continuum of Care services, which were just awarded $6.2 million by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The state-of-the-art structure was the result of a transformation conducted by the architectural firm Studio One Eleven, from an existing office building-turned-daycare center into a sustainable, beautiful, environmentally-friendly facility that stands proudly on Long Beach Boulevard, across from Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital.
“Our vision is that all children under age six who have experienced homelessness or abuse and neglect will have a safe, nurturing place to spend their days playing, learning and growing, while their parents take steps towards stability,” said Burns in a statement. “We are as committed to sustainability as we are to the children and families we serve, so it was a huge challenge to adapt the existing structures and surrounding land to create our new eco-friendly home.”
Burns said Children Today’s services were divided into two different locations before it began officially operating in January: one at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and one at Crossroads Church. The two locations merged into one at the standout locale after construction, which began in 2014, was completed.
The new location looks to continue to offer the city’s supportive services with flexible classrooms, a screen wall to provide a transition to public-facing walls (with the facility’s goals written), that backyard oasis and even a playhouse built by Studio One Eleven employees.
The new Children Today EcoHouse is located at 2951 Long Beach Boulevard.