Huntsville Center Designs, Furnishes Army’s Largest Child Development Center

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville (Huntsville Center) designed and procured furniture for a new state-of-the-art child development center at Fort Wainwright Fairbanks, Alaska. The largest CDC in the Army is set to unveil June 4, marking a significant milestone in providing high-quality childcare services to families in the region.

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The new facility represents a growth in Huntsville Center’s capabilities and significant investment in the welfare of families stationed in the rugged Alaskan interior.

Michael Johnson, Huntsville Center architect, detailed how the project for Huntsville Center’s customer, Installation Management Command G9 Child and Youth Services, determined the need for the establishment of new team to develop and enhance an outdated standard design furniture package for this CDC and future facilities.

“Huntsville Center’s Architecture Branch Center of Standardization (COS) pioneered the development of a Standard Design Furniture Fixtures and Equipment procurement package beginning in 2021 as an effort to meet the Installation Management Command G9 Child and Youth Services’ need for a turnkey CDC facility,” Johnson said.

children furniture in army center
USACE PHOTO BY CHRIS PUTNAM

“The collaboration with Huntsville Center’s Interior Design Branch and Furnishings Program in anticipation of this project’s completion and a wave of new CDC facilities being built around the globe, is a prototype for all Army COS Standard facility type furniture procurement packages.”

Jennifer McDowell, Huntsville Center Centralized Furnishings Program project manager, explained how this effort is the first of many CDC furniture packages to come out of Huntsville Center.

“Huntsville Center was able to procure the furniture for Wainwright’s CDC, and in upcoming projects, our team will have a greater impact on the design of the furnishings,” McDowell said.

“Design Services is working with the COS on the development and maintenance of furniture, fixture and equipment standards, which will become furniture procurements out of Huntsville Center’s Centralized Furnishings Program for the Army’s future CDCs. They will also provide design reviews of CDC designs prepared by the responsible district.”

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Huntsville Center is one of nine Centers of Standardization established by the Director of Military Programs in March 2006. Huntsville Center is the COS for CDCs for infants to children six years old, CDC for ages six to ten years old and youth centers for middle school youth and teens, among other facility types.

Johnson further detailed the team effort for the multi-year process.

“The Army’s construction process is a five-year effort from planning, to design, through construction. Due to the CDC being a design-build facility and the tight schedule, the COS led the effort to finalize the standard furniture procurement package and furniture fixtures and equipment package design reviews.”

The Center’s COS supported the development of the Army standard, standard design and standard criteria, while providing design oversight and construction support to USACE districts involved in the construction of the new 43,623-square-foot CDC and 38,311-square-feet of outdoor play area.

She explained how the building had to be uniquely tailored to meet the needs of children ranging from infants to pre-kindergarten, ensuring a safe, nurturing and educational environment.

“Most of the projects we work on focus on the Soldier, but for this project the team prioritized the care of the end-user – the children and staff,” Johnson said.

children furniture in Army center
USACE PHOTO BY CHRIS PUTNAM

“The design and furnishings really kept the children in mind to create an environment to support learning, growth and development.”

Johnson specifies some of the adaptations to the standard design required for the one-of-a-kind CDC.

“We had to adapt the standard design to meet some of the unique requirements due to the extreme climate. Some of those included artic entries, brighter color palettes and a large multipurpose room.”

The 4,000-square-foot multipurpose space was added to provide a safe place for activities during cold, dark winter days as well as a safe location for evacuation emergencies in extreme weather conditions.

The new child development center will accommodate up to 338 children under five years old, significantly increasing the childcare capacity on the installation.

Carol Athnos, Interior Design Branch design services lead, said after talking to staff of the new CDC, this expansion is particularly crucial given the remote location where access to quality childcare services can be limited.

“Based on conversations with the staff, finding childcare can be challenging for soldiers and the families stationed there. The new facility will offer another choice and help improve their quality of life,” Athnos said.

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The child development center design is aligned with larger Army priorities of quality-of-life improvements for servicemembers and their families.

The Army-wide initiative focuses on enhancing infrastructure and services on military bases across the country to increase the quality-of-life for Soldiers, civilian employees and family members.

“The Center’s COS team is proud to answer the call of our customer’s needs in support of the Army’s mission in providing soldiers a better quality of life,” Johnson said.

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