UAB Early Learning Center

A childcare facility for the university's faculty and staff

Operated by the university to offer employees safe, high-quality, and convenient on-campus childcare, UAB’s new Early Learning Center was designed to accommodate over 200 children, which doubled the capacity of the previous facility.

The Early Learning Center includes 18,407 square feet of classroom and operational space and a 9,700-square-foot outdoor playground.

Centered around the outdoor playground and indoor play area, the design includes separate spaces for infant, toddler, and preschool age children.

The design of the indoor play area was inspired by a treehouse. A hollow, elevated area representing a tree trunk provides children a place to sit and look out to the activity on the outdoor playground.

Hanging acoustic panels represent the leaves of the tree and clouds. These panels soften the space, add color, and dampen the sound in this area.

Turf hills, ropes, and various hand and foot holds encourage safe climbing.

Nestled between the arms of the building, the outdoor playground is the heart of the facility.

The space is divided into two main play areas to accommodate different age groups and features shade structures throughout.

Surrounded by views from various classrooms and the indoor play area, the playground feels connected to the whole building.

The location of the playground creates a sense of activity throughout the building and allows for constant adult supervision.

Design decisions in the classrooms, including the custom wall graphics, were catered to each age group.

In the older classrooms, child-size bathroom stalls and hand washing stations give children a sense of independence while remaining in view of the teacher.

Additional amenities such as a car seat storage room, break room, and a wellness room provide spaces catered to support parents and staff.

Investing in this new facility and offering UAB faculty and staff discounted childcare reflects the university’s dedication to supporting a positive work-life balance and commitment to the personal and professional success of its employees.