Navigating an “Urban Daycare” Project, at DC’s District Wharf

After designing over 30 daycare centers in suburban settings, Loveless Porter Architects is working on its first “urban childcare” design, in The Banks development, across from DC’s District Wharf. Much of the process is the same: Creating an environment that invites children to explore and learn, with careful consideration given to safety, age range, classroom sizes and curriculum. Yet, building a space where children can laugh and play in a busy downtown area comes with some architectural challenges.

“The primary difference for an urban daycare, architecturally, is the location and type of design/build. For instance, the typical Goddard School is a stand alone building on a parcel of land with plenty of playground space,” said Loveless Porter owner Sean Porter. “The urban application is much more restricted on how you ‘arrive’ at the space. Most urban applications are located within an office building or other type of existing structure. There is limited parking and limited area for playgrounds outside, as well as for the interior layout areas vs existing building support elements like structure, chases, and risers.”

Loveless Porter is adapting this Goddard School to its surroundings in other ways as well.  “With its location at The Wharf, we applied a nautical and rustic theme using nautical paint colors with earth tone woods and accents. It keeps the feel of the neighborhood on the water in a way that is accessible and engaging for the students,” said Porter.  

In keeping with other projects at The Wharf, the new Goddard School will be part of a mixed-use development that combines work/play/live space. Seven stories of luxury living will sit atop retail, Goddard and Riverside Baptist Church. The inclusion of a daycare and a place of worship are a bit unusual in mixed use complexes, but here they are inspired and designed to meet specific community needs.  

“What is better than dropping your child off as you are leaving for work, and coming home to the same location care is provided?” said Porter.

Riverside Baptist has operated from this location since the 1960s, and sold its land to developer PN Hoffman with the agreement that a new sanctuary would be incorporated into The Banks.  The congregation will welcome its new neighbors to join them in their tradition of worship.

Following its successful design work at The Banks, The Goddard School Washington DC has selected Loveless Porter Architects to design its next two downtown locations.