Cynthia Cole, Ph.D. Founder of Fontanelle Academy of Early Learning had a vision for a new infant care and early childhood education facility. One which, last fall, ran directly into a vacant plumbing warehouse on Dove Street in a lesser known semi industrial section of town. The building, at just over 13,000 sq. ft, was spacious. With access too public transportation, both on site and legal street parking, room for an outdoor play area, and even adjacent to a small city owned lot that had potential as a “pocket park,” there was nothing to dislike about the site. That is, until one was faced with bringing an old warehouse into compliance with Local Code and Childcare Regulations.
Cynthia, on a recommendation from the Alexandria Small Business Development Center, asked us, since we often work with small businesses, to carry out the conversion, i.e., the miracle of assimilating old and new bricks n mortar, public safety, expert advisors, skilled tradesmen, products, services, technologies, and most of all a client’s dream into an artful, safe and inspiring place for a child to be. It is what today’s architects must do.
There were many challenges, not the least being the consequences of an unexpected pandemic. There were delays due to, reduced access to city staff, slow delivery on products, limit hours of building material suppliers, the necessity of implementing new work safety precautions, and just plan worry about the future. The team nevertheless persevered until now there is a badly needed, lovely new childcare facility in Alexandria just in time for the “Phase 3” business reopening in Virginia. It is encouraging news at a time when positive outcomes are in short supply.
The team members:
Randy Granzow, PE
GRANZOW STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS, PLC