This studio will explore architecture’s role in two of life’s most vital transitions: early childhood formation and early-stage career ambitions. As is perhaps obvious, these transitions have altogether different reasons-for-being and wholly distinct yearnings for outcomes. No less obviously, these life-periods intersect in ways that are as entangled vis-à-vis one another as they are fraught with centrifugal pressures. Tending to children goes one way — toward the intimacy of home — while a parent’s career hopes point in the opposite direction — toward effectiveness in the world. These two transitions invariably collide in the timetables and exigencies of domestic life, handing them to us as a sort of Gordian knot, a seemingly zero-sum relationship that pits the twinned prospects of children’s futures and parents’ maturing societal roles against one another.
The brief for this studio will include a Pre-K childcare facility and office space. The Pre-K program has countless antecedents, ranging from Head Start schools in the US to French crèche spaces to recent programs in New York stemming from the de Blasio Pre-K and Free 3-K programs. The office space component, also rich in architectural history, will offer 12-24-36 month workspace allocations for parents with children in the Pre-K facility, a medium-term office space that will allow parents to advance careers while remaining steps away from their children.
What, one should ask, does architecture have to do with this piece of our social contract? Something. Not everything. But definitely not nothing. We will begin with the assumption that architecture can invigorate relationships between the early years of life and the maturing of our vocations when they are brought together as spatial concerns. Our walls, floors, windows, doors, and ceilings — our rooms — are conduits for our social and cultural ambitions. This assumption is meant to have a utopian aroma about it, a scent that might be strong or faint but that, regardless, will assure we are sanguine about our undertaking.