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The goal of this schematic level project was to design a 5200 sq.ft. learning center in Raleigh, NC, for adults with autism and other cognitive challenges where they can develop the independent living skills specified in the program requirements.  The environment takes into account research on space design for individuals with hyper- and hypo-sensitivity as well as mobility challenges, and includes an Outdoor Courtyard as well as a Sensory Room. 


"Ripples" describes the gentle movement of water when disturbed, perhaps when a leaf lands on it or a fish nibbles at the surface.  A ripple begins small and grows outward in a graduated fashion, a metaphor for what the training center seeks to accomplish with its clients: to help them gradually increase their tolerance for stimulation by acquiring skills which will allow them to grow into and engage in the community.


Raleigh, NC, is known as the City of Oaks.  The oak tree is a symbol of strength and, in this context, the acorns are the small steps toward personal growth and independence. 


Quieter spaces are separated from the more active ones, yet they are connected via looped circulation that allows clients to wander without losing their way.  This design, along with windows into each space, offers clients the opportunity to be checkout new spaces and activities without generating unwanted interactions.  The courtyard offers additional choices with nooks for loners, an herb garden and a koi pond, all opportunities to engage the senses to whatever degree is comfortable. The design employs natural finishes and low-intensity (but varied) color to create interest and facilitate wayfinding and also manages acoustics and potential glare.

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