Project Team House: Manatee Children Protection ….. Bradenton, FL
How to save children from broken and abusive homes? This is the challenge of Manatee Children’s Services. Over decades they have perfected the protocols and strategies but have yet to find their own ‘home’ suited to the difficult task they face. Expanding their property holdings on an adjacent site brings that opportunity and the potential for a garden campus to draw together their two existing buildings with the new Project Team Building. Both the ideas embedded in the concept of a garden (nurture, growth, nature, ecology, healing) and the physical occupation of a garden that permeates into the building spaces became the driving concept behind this design. The building program is quite complex requiring specialized interview and observation rooms, a full medical clinic, administrative spaces, offices, and a layered access security arrangement. The vertical and horizontal organization of the building and the use of exterior stairs and courts connect people to the garden whenever possible while also providing secured spaces for critical situations. A community meeting room offers a civic presence at the street while simultaneously buffering the implications of the more difficult and heart wrenching stories that will be told in the private spaces of the building. Here again, the garden becomes a vital symbol and prescription in the healing process for the many children who pass through and for the staff who every day take on the burden of those children’s circumstances.