Woodland Wonders Preschool

Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Nestled within the 120-acre tract of the Kreher Preserve, the new preschool facility promotes wonder and exploration of the natural world and cultivates a sense of stewardship toward our community and environment. Inspired by nature-based learning that children experience and imagined as an extension of the network of trails throughout the preserve, the preschool is organized along a central “learning trail” spine. Light-filled classrooms alternate with administrative area and a series of open and covered porches that extend out into the natural woodlands beyond.

The butterfly roof structure and operable windows allow for ample daylight and natural ventilation in appropriate seasons to increase sustainable, lower energy operation of the building. Biophilic design principles reinforce the connection to nature, with exposed local yellow pine throughout, direct outdoor views in all spaces, CNC cut outs of nature motifs and details like butterfly door handles that accommodate both adults and children. Consistent with the mission of the Kreher Nature Preserve, healthy trees are saved and incorporated into the design and all stormwater is managed naturally on-site including rainwater collected from the butterfly roofs used for bathrooms. Constructed from timber harvested on-site, the preschool celebrates the potential of wood – aesthetically, economically, and environmentally. The preschool will incorporate cross laminated timber (CLT) produced in Alabama with southern yellow pine as a demonstration of this new, sustainable building product with great potential for the region’s forestry-based industries. Exposed natural wood ceilings, walls, floors and open decks make sustainable forestry a tangible part of the school experience.