Reinventing A Community Landmark: Gladstone Center for Children & FamiliesApr 17 2013 · 0 comments · NISHKIAN DEAN ·0
Gladstone Center for Children & Families:
Cost: $4.94 Million
Square Footage: 30,000
Gladstone, Oregon is small residential community in Clackamas County, located twelve miles south of Portland. A primarily residential community, Gladstone is home to a number of locally-owned businesses, many that have served Gladstone families for generations. One of these businesses, often referred to as the heart of Gladstone, was the Danielson’s Thriftway store on Portland Avenue.
Located directly across the street from Gladstone High School, Danielson’s Thriftway was a central part of the social fabric of this small, close-knit community. In 2003, after 40 years in this locale, the doors of this community landmark were closed, leaving both an emotional and physical void.
An Opportunity for Transformation
Community leaders, however, saw opportunity in the vacant community landmark. This once retail landscape could continue to serve the citizens of Gladstone as a Center for Children and Families. The new early childhood center would work to reduce barriers for all families and children from birth to age six in the Gladstone community by providing county and district early intervention services more effectively and efficiently. As Gladstone School District Superintendent Bob Stewart explained, “In our state and in our nation, we spend a lot of money on early childhood, and it’s all disconnected. You’ve got a program over here, a program over there. Shouldn’t we know what (these agencies) do, know how it fits with what we do?” (Oregonian, June 14, 2009).
The finished center would be a multigenerational learning environment offering coordinated educational programs and social services to hundreds of area students and families. Additionally, the Center would model the Birth to 20 educational goals at the heart of the governor’s educational reform plan.
The Center’s unique private and public partnership is making headlines locally and nationally, including an honorable mention in the American School Board Journal’s 17th annual Magna Awards program, which honors outstanding examples of school district leadership to showcase practical solutions to pressing problems and programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools.
“The GCCF is one of my favorite projects. It is a story of the wonderful things that can happen when a community comes together with a vision of providing service to their most vulnerable citizens. Being a part of conversations that started on a cold winter night in an empty grocery store and seeing the vibrant home where essential services are being offered to the greater Gladstone community has been an incredible honor.” Karina Ruiz, Dull Olson Weekes — IBI Group Architects
A New Community Landmark Emerges
In March of 2007, the Center for Children and Families Visioning Committee Report outlined the following:
- The Center will be a gemstone of the community.
- Children’s early educational experiences provide foundation for all future learning.
- Young children learn best in a learning environment designed especially for young children.
- We must support not only children, but also the families of young children.
- Children and families will be better served by a collaborative model that enhances our services.
- To ensure a warm, welcoming, safe, secure and healthy environment for both children and adults.
- To create and sustain a rich learning environment where young children and adults can explore, achieve and grow together.
- To foster development of children by helping parents to be as effective as possible in growing healthy, capable and confident families.
- To nurture ongoing, collaborative relationships between and among children, students, staff, family member and the surrounding community.
The Visioning Committee gave the architects the following charge:
When kids walk in they must know the Center is theirs.
Project Partners, Funding, and Design The Gladstone Center for Children and Families (GCCF) was conceived as a partnership between public and private agencies. The initial educational and social service partners included the following:
- Gladstone School District Kindergarten
- Clackamas County Mental Health
- Clackamas Children’s Commission Head Start
- Clackamas Community College
- Clackamas Education Service District Head Start
- Healthy Start of Clackamas County
- Family Stepping Stones Relief Nursery
- LifeWorks Northwest
The GCCF is housed in the former 30,000 sq. ft. grocery store. The $ 1.8 million property costs were shared by a donation from the Danielson Family ($ 800,000) and funds from the Gladstone School District ($ 1 million). The design and construction was initially funded through the following resources:
- Federally Qualified Health Center Funds
- School District Medical (uninsured and insured)
When opened in January of 2009, the GCCF was the first facility in Oregon to provide a continuum of services for young children from birth to six years old and their families in one location, while also providing a center for teacher training and research. The school district was also able to save dollars by moving its kindergarten classes to the center and shifting its fifth graders back to an elementary school. Because operating costs are shared by all of the partners involved, the funds required from the school district’s budget are minimized.
The early visioning efforts included physical and virtual tours of programs with similar characteristics, allowing the architectural design team to include state of the art early education classrooms, collaborative partner space, and gathering spaces for small and large groups. Utilizing an existing building also provided a sustainable and more cost-effective solution. The design also included a seismic retrofit as required by the building code for this change in building occupancy type.
Following the opening of the Center in 2009, the school district located two additional partners, the Family Stepping Stones Relief Nursery (FSS) and Gladstone Health Clinic (GHC), to occupy two vacant attached retail spaces in September of 2010. The GHC is a community health clinic for adults and children, funded by Clackamas County Health Department and operated by CareOregon. The relief nursery is run by the FSS non-profit organization, and received its funding from Clackamas County Federal Stimulus funds and private donations. The total construction cost of all three components was $ 6.1 million and the total square footage of the completed facility is approximately 37,700 square feet.
Additional information about this innovative project and how it has impacted the community can be seen on the Gladstone School District website at: gladstone.k12.or.us.
About The Author
Robert A. Aman, PE, SE, LEE D AP is an Associate at Nishkian Dean Structural Engineers licensed in Oregon and California. Rob has over 17 years of professional experience in structural design, consulting and project management. His projects include a wide array of new and existing buildings, highlighted by K-12 Schools throughout the State of Oregon, including seismic studies and major renovations, public, institutional, commercial, residential and industrial building type structures.
For more information, contact Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org