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Center for Independent Learning

ADA, Universal Design, Space Planning, Biophilia

Location: New Haven, CT

Class: Studio III

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Client Profile:

Located on Chapel Street, New Haven, the Elm City Center for Learning is  looking for a comprehensive design a small vocational facility. It  will serve as an educational and training space for individuals with ASD and other cognitive disabilities. The purpose of the center is to increase the quality of life for individuals on the spectrum and their families.

Design Statement:

The Elm City Center for Independent Learning takes inspiration from the elm trees that line the new haven green. A faux elm tree can be found in the sensory room, while arches and soft corners emulate the cast iron arched windows of the historic new haven architecture. The center aims to teach skills to teenagers with asd to become independent and enter the workforce. In order for the teachings to be most effective, space compartmentalization allows for sensory adaptation. Areas range from, high sensory load like the sensory experience room and outdoor garden to low sensory loads like the office training room. Zones like these allow for areas of stimulation and refuge depending on what the individual needs. 

Research

 

What is ASD?

Common Issues

Solutions

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder (CDC, 2020).

  • FLICKERING FLUORESCENTS 

  • NOISE FROM MECHANICAL SYSTEMS

  • TOO MUCH NATURAL OR ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING

  • BRIGHT COLORS 

  • OVER STIMULATION/UNDER STIMULATION 

  • EMPHASIS ON BIOPHILIA

  • ACOUSTIC CONTROL 

  • ADJUSTABLE LIGHTING CONTROLS 

  • ADJUSTABLE WINDOW TREATMENTS 

  • MOVABLE AND FLEXIBLE FURNISHINGS

  • SPECIAL ZONING AND ROUTING CONSIDERATIONS 

  • REMOVING UNNECESSARY NOISE FROM MECHANICAL AND LIGHTING SYSTEMS 

  • PROVIDING AREAS OF SENSORY REFUGE 

  • CURVED WALLS AND ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES 

Criteria, Adjacency Matrix & Diagramming

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Inspiration

 
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 A faux elm tree can be found in the sensory room, while arches and soft corners emulate the cast iron arched windows of the historic new haven architecture. 

Design Development

 

Universal Design Principal Keyed Plan

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The reception aims to create a simple and relaxing environment. The area features an ADA reception desk, and clear access to the main corridor. This takes out any mystery that can trigger anxiety in individuals with ASD. The room is also equipped with daylighting and acoustic controls.

Reception

Reception Perspective

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Section Rendering in Collaboration with Ally Singer

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Sensory Room

The sensory room resembles the relationship to nature in the New Haven Area, focusing on the green. Light wood tones, with blue and pale pink accents are interesting yet not too chaotic. To the left,  a touch wall houses reindeer moss, an air purifier and acoustic material. The sensory room also includes hanging chairs, and a peg wall. 

Office Training Room

The office training room is an area for users to gain computer, organizing, and work skills. Each computer station allows for customization of the individual while also creating privacy and focus. All furniture is moveable so it can be changed to fit the occupants immediate needs. 

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Multipurpose Training Room

The multipurpose room acts as a “classroom,” a space for learning and flexibility. There are different types of seating to host several types of individuals, and smart technology for in depth lesson plans. 

Hallway/ Corridor

The hallway, which is over 10 feet in width is meant to not feel like a closed in space. As you pass the kitchen, you will see a large locker built in area with a seating nook. This can be used to wait for friends while they grab their items, take off jackets etc. It can also serve as a place of refuge when the learning areas are overloaded. 

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Craft Room

The craft room has ample storage for art supplies etc. All the furniture is flexible to support many types of activities. All surfaces are specified for easy cleanup. 

Final Presentation

 
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