For over 50 years, the Children’s Center has provided early intervention and family support services for children with special needs. A fixture in the Augusta community, the Children’s Center provides center-based services for children ages six weeks to five years, along with outpatient services and case management for kids up to age 21. Services include behavioral health therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, outpatient mental health services, and caregiver education.
The Children’s Center’s new $5M addition and renovation has greatly expanded its capacity to serve children with autism spectrum disorder and mental health diagnoses. The new facility includes a special-purpose private school to accommodate kindergarten-age students who are not ready for mainstream school attendance. The center also includes a Snoezelen Room, a multi-sensory therapeutic play environment that is both sensory-rich and soothing.
The Children’s Center addition expanded the current facility by 14,000 SF while renovating 5,000 SF of existing space. WBRC’s design team leveraged a sloping site to separate administrative functions and outpatient service access from the day-to-day center activities. The two-story addition includes dividable classrooms and new support spaces, allowing the flexible accommodation of changing needs and future growth. Outside, increasing play areas and parking capacity were key objectives in the new design. The building’s exterior massing and detailing create a home-like appearance that harmonizes with the surrounding residential neighborhood while making the expanded facility appear smaller and more welcoming.
The design solution includes a new, secure main entrance designed to facilitate improved transitions for students with sensory issues. A low-stimulation interior color scheme provides a calming environment for students, teachers, and caregivers. Other improvements include enhanced traffic flow, acoustic separation, daylighting, energy efficiency, meeting spaces, and accessibility.