Nia House Learning Center, the oldest Montessori preschool program west of the Mississippi, has been a Berkeley institution serving children of working families since 1974.  In 2012, the lot adjacent to the existing school became available allowing the program to expand with a new classroom building.  The program expansion provides two toddler class-rooms, two covered outdoor classrooms, office space and a teacher work room.  The new building defines the edge of the campus by completing the U-shapes building complex surrounding the main play yard, and by providing a new "front door" and public face for the school in its West Berkeley neighborhood.  The two new classrooms are organized between two covered outdoor spaces where children can learn outside throughout the year.  A simple material palette of cement board siding, galvanized matal, and natural wood, serve as building blocks for a playful and durable environment while keeping costs affordable.

Photography: Muffy Kibbey

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