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    Featured Project


    When the Naval Station Oceana Base in Virginia Beach embarked on an ambitious project to create one of the largest military youth centers in the region there were significant challenges. In light of modern threats to schools and military bases, a new design would demand an emphasis on safety and present an open, cheerful and inviting gathering place for children. 

    The surrounding buildings are industrial and agricultural, so the choice of vernacular materials including a low-gabled roof, brick and board-and-batten siding helps the building respond to its context. Along the spine of the building, four roof-top light monitors give the interior common space abundant daylight. The daylight isn’t merely atmospheric: The design team used virtual daylight simulation software to ensure, throughout the day and season-to-season, the lanterns would function to bring better-than-adequate levels of daylight into the center of the building. 

    A Youth Center has two very different programmatic functions that need to work together. Children require the watchful eye of administrators; however, they also need a sense of freedom to move around the center as they desire during play. When asked about what she likes best about the design, Elizabeth Kettel, the Youth Center Director, praised “the way the new building is set up” which allows for the “freedom of movement the children are able to have” within the building. 

    The Youth Center is a place for children to be “children”. It is a place to sing, dance, paint, or read and do homework. It is lively, bright, cheerful and fun with broad strokes of bold colors. 

    Youth Leader Latese Harris commented, when visitors tour the center, a frequent comment from parents is, “I want to go here!”