The Children’s Place supports the developmental and mental health needs of young survivors of abuse, neglect and other trauma. The nonprofit needed new space that would advance its mission of providing trauma-responsive care for this vulnerable population.
Working within a modest budget, HOK designed the renovation of two existing buildings and a new link between the buildings. The result is an environment that transforms the traditional appearance and performance of mental health treatment centers.
Our team worked with The Children’s Place on visioning exercises that supported its qualitative and quantitative goals for the new center. It quickly became clear that it was important to create a welcoming environment where children and their families would feel supported and safe.
Four main goals emerged for the project:
• Increase visibility
• Provide program excellence
• Celebrate culture
• Expand services
The team designed the classrooms to provide a homelike experience. Each classroom has a ‘front porch’ with clear wayfinding that helps children identify their home base. There are daylit, flexible zones for play and learning, as well as built-in play nooks. Quiet rooms within classrooms give children a safe place to decompress when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Each classroom has a direct connection to a ‘back porch’ that serves as an outdoor classroom. The ‘backyard’ is an expansive, private outdoor playground that promotes learning and healing.
Bright, cheerful environmental graphics within and outside the buildings create a sense of place for both the children, staff and the community.
The user-centered design has created a homelike experience for vulnerable children recovering from unthinkable traumas. The highly flexible classroom, therapy and community space will enable The Children’s Place to grow and provide much-needed services to the Kansas City community for years to come.
Since the renovated center opened at the end of 2020, The Children’s Place has been able to serve 30 percent more children and families.