Oak Ridge Pre-K

Oak Ridge, TN
35,000 sf
January 2020


Efficiency, feasibility, and safety were top priorities for the new Pre-K School. The city has seen tremendous growth in recent years, along with an increase in the need for pre-kindergarten education. The existing Pre-K facility was 70 years young and in need of some serious TLC. The design team and school officials, with input from the community and head-start representatives, worked to develop a feasible, fully compliant design to fulfill the city’s pre-kindergarten needs.

The new Pre-K school, located adjacent to the newly renovated Scarboro Park, creates an exciting environment for children and the community alike. The project includes the construction of a new Pre-K building and renovation of surrounding park amenities. The new Pre-K school is programmatically divided into three types of zones: administrative, developmental, and classroom learning. The admin zone is complete with an arrangement of offices, a full-size conference room, and receiving lobby separate from the school lobby. The developmental zone includes a gymnasium, library, and inclusion classroom that goes hand in hand with the Oak Ridge Pre-K speech and physical therapy programs. The classroom zone is made up of 14 classrooms arranged in pairs of two maximizing efficiencies and allowing for future growth.


Scale was important in the design of the preschool.  As a transitional space for young children, the feel and effect of these new spaces are critical on an emotional and psychological level. The design strives to create a smooth spatial transition from the familiar scale of “home” to the social environment of a classroom. This was the driving idea behind the design.


The classroom “pods” are arranged along two wings stemming from the admin and developmental zones. Each pod is made up of two classrooms that share a restroom and include efficiently banked appliances. The classroom pods are then staggered to allow natural lighting and views to the interior courtyard.

The design team worked with the school to implement safety strategies throughout the design. The playground, cradled by the building, utilizes the building itself as a security strategy. Retreat zones were designed within classroom pods for emergency situations along with impact-resistant glazing and auto-locking mechanisms. Finally, a double vestibule allows the administration to separate access between the school and administration zone.