Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building
The new Linn County Public Health and Child and Youth Development Services Building, currently under schematic design, will be a multi-use 63,000-square-foot facility with the potential for future expansion on a 90,000-square-foot site in southeast Cedar Rapids just beyond downtown and outside of the NewBohemia, Czech and medical districts in a largely residential neighborhood.
The current building, which also houses both departments, is approximately 14,800 square feet, lacks natural light, privacy, sound control, privacy for public clients, adequate classroom and storage space, and is in dire need of basic maintenance such as roof repairs that cause leaking into office and childcare areas. Because the building is used by both the departments of public health and child and youth development, programming for the new facility includes a diverse mix of classroom and childcare spaces, offices, meeting rooms, clinics, and lab.
The Department of Child and Youth Development Services offers childcare and preschool to the county’s underserved, in-need population. It is also open to those students who for behavior reasons are not permitted to attend public schools. All services are paid for by the county. This portion of the building includes three preschool/ daycare classrooms and as well as a large motor skill multi-function space.
The childcare center will be designed to create a calm and safe space that may be lacking in the other parts of these children’s lives. It will be a space they can be proud of that also offers tactile learning opportunities through materiality of the space and surroundings. Overt sustainability strategies such as a green roof become part of the everyday learning experience. Other outdoors space, including a playground, promotes creative rather than prescriptive play.
The youth program is geared towards middle school age children who need extra, after hours school help or a safe place to hang out with friends. The building program offers a gymnasium and lounge areas, along with study tutoring spaces.
Outdoor areas also will be available afterhours to the community who will be able to use the green space as they would a neighborhood park. The community was also taken into account with the design of the building’s exterior to ensure it is not only compatible and contextual, but improves the surrounding neighborhood.
The building will be designed toward a LEED Platinum designation, with Net Zero aspirations.