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USDA New Childcare Facility Ribbon Cutting

GSA recently participated in a ribbon cutting for the official opening of the US Department of Agriculture Child Development Center in the Sidney Yates Building, which is occupied by the U.S. Forest Service. The new 11,000 square foot child care facility can accommodate approximately 80 children on the first floor and serves children 6 weeks to 5 years old. Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary, provided keynote remarks, followed by Krysta Harden, USDA Deputy Secretary and Tom Tidwell, USDA US Forest Service Chief, and GSA Administrator, Dan Tangherlini. Julia E Hudson, NCR Regional Administrator attended the event along with Public Buildings Commissioner Norman Dong and NCR Regional Commissioner Darren Blue. Hootie Owl and Smokey the Bear made an appearance, as well.

The ribbon cutting was followed by a tour of the new facility. Further, the new Center will have the ability to secure children in close proximity to their parent’s workplace. This model has proven to have significant benefits to a child’s development and to a parent’s work performance. Additionally, it is the goal of GSA to help provide federal workers with a safe, high quality workplace child care facility. The USDA Child Development Center is a model of this commitment. GSA sought to provide a new center that provides a safe, high quality, and healthy child development space for agency employees., and the first floor site in the Yates Building, occupied by the U.S. Forest Service, was determined to be the most suitable location.

Some highlights of the new USDA CDC facility include an architectural design that linked the connection between the child’s experience of discovery, growth, and sustainability to the missions of the USDA and Forest Service through the choices of materials and shapes relevant to both agencies. The facility will be certified a minimum LEED Silver to meet the sustainability goals of GSA and provide a healthy environment for children.

The new building systems for the CDC and Forest Service modernization required extensive coordination among all parties to ensure conflicts were avoided between the existing building structure and new required systems and coordination with the ongoing renovation of the Forest Service. Salvaged bricks and pavers were used when possible for new work in order to maintain the historic character of the structure. Care was taken to match and wed existing brick mortar joints with similar mortar types, and the existing historic windows were salvaged and kept in storage for future use on the building.

The new Child Care entry, an addition, has a flat seam welded copper roof similar to the existing materials on the building, and its connection to the existing building were minimized in order to maintain the integrity of the existing historic facade.Certified wood in the interior creates a warm and comforting environment for the children and serves as an educational tool connecting to the mission of the Forest Service. The varied ceiling heights were designed on a child appropriate scale while maintaining the existing historic windows and natural light around the perimeter of the classrooms. The center is equipped with high level security systems and design elements required of modern day federal child care facilities based on the GSA Child Care Design Guide. The full spectrum of natural light, neutral color choices and simple geometric shapes remain hallmarks of a quality child care center.

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