“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all teaches entire trust”

-Gertrude Jekyll

Project Objective

The Project Team is a specialized group of talented and dedicated individuals who rescue children from abusive homes and environments in Manatee County.  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. 

Project Development

Upon rescue, a child needs specialized interview sessions to assess the depth and severity of abuse without leading children to understate or overstate the circumstances. Children typically also need medical examinations, personal hygiene, and psychological counseling.

Rather than move the children from police stations to hospitals, and on to counselors, the Project Team will provide all of those services in this facility. The facility will offer state-of-the-art services for children victims within a context that is protecting, nurturing, and inspiring. As a complement to two other existing buildings currently housing Manatee Children’s Services administration and social worker offices, the facility catalyzes the garden concept, organizes the space of the grounds, and provides a new set of complex programmed spaces.

Project Design – Garden

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 on 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.

Drawing from the garden, the building utilizes natural site resources such as rainwater, sunlight, and breezes for: daylight in spaces, natural ventilation when appropriate, rainwater harvesting for irrigation, photovoltaic electricity production, and food and her production. Concrete columns and slabs, insulated frame walls, glazing, and a metal rain screen is anticipated as the structural and enclosing systems.

Plan and Section Drawings

The garden offers a nurturing out-of-doors protected space where kids and counselors can meet, talk, and play. The design strives to blur the interior-exterior boundary to provide high visual interaction between activities inside the building and within the protected garden space. The garden becomes perhaps the most important healing space in the facility.

The project is uniquely situated at the northwest corner of Bradenton’s Village of the Arts (VOTA) district. The project will act as a community support building, civic destination, urban marker, and gateway to VOTA.

The site will be one of the first sites developed in the area under the new Form-Based Code. The block straddles three zoning designations and acts as an important “transect” site within the New Urbanism form-based code.