March Studio’s recent project, Untitled No. 1’s nature-based preschool, is racking up recognition for its intentional design and sustainability. The Reggio-inspired, Santa Monica-based school is the first preschool globally to be awarded WELL Certification at the Gold Level by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). WELL is the premier building standard to focus on enhancing people’s health and wellness through the buildings where we live, work and play. This designation is in addition to Untitled No. 1’s LEED Gold Certification as well as Santa Monica and California Green Business Certifications.
From the onset of the design process, the objective defined in March Studio’s BRAND. DESIGN. BUILD.TM (B.D.B.) Process was “to achieve the highest environmental standards in construction, operation, and curriculum.” The success of March Studio’s design approach was celebrated at the recent Westside Urban Forum’s Design Awards, when Untitled No. 1 was awarded the Merit Design Award for Schools. The glowing commentary from the jury highlighted how the intentional design decisions outlined in the B.D.B. Process are executed throughout the project:
“Great architecture has a learning quality to it and this building is unfolding in every way, mined with lots of teaching moments.”
“We like the juxtaposition between the simple exterior with its unassuming quality and how didactic and energetic the interior is, and the sense of discovery as you pass from space to space.”
“There’s a playful materiality to the building, even though it uses a lot of di erent materials, it is very successful in making each space feel comfortable and unique in its own right.”
The Director, Laila Taslimi, is excited about the opportunity for learning this design provides,
“The entire house is crafted to inspire discovery and play. So the outside and inside spaces are designed as flexible and adaptable to accommodate the multiple purposes of current projects.”
Given their expertise and award-winning history in early education spaces, March Studio will reprise their speaking role at next year’s ECSTEM Conference in Pasadena, home to their award-winning Outdoor Science Lab at Caltech. They are also bringing their unique approach to an Alphabet Child Care Center project in South San Francisco, currently in process.
How does a nature-based preschool provide opportunities to consider social justice and engage the community?
Untitled No. 1 is a sustainable preschool that provides opportunities through nature, human, and real world connections for social justice and active engagement with its community. March Studio, in collaboration with landscape architects Terremoto, embraced the principles of child-centered and environment as third teacher, both outside and inside, through thoughtful interventions, provocations, spaces for inquiry, and interaction. The result is an open-ended and flexible environment that is rich with evocative objects and social justice driven STEM possibilities that acts as a model and source of inspiration for others.
Winner of Westside Urban Forum Design Merit Award 2019
Author: Form Magazine
FORM: pioneering design, a publication that celebrates Southern California’s contribution to architecture, design, and the visual arts.