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Rooftop fun at sizable south Minneapolis day care

A former Walgreens and home goods store on Lake Street has been transformed by CNH Architects into a Jardin Spanish Immersion Academy with a captivating two-part rooftop playground. Drone imagery reveals the innovative design.

The entire interior of the Minneapolis structure was stripped and reinforcements were added to support the rooftop playground, explains Architect Jessica Johnson with CNH. All new walls were constructed for classrooms, a gym and breakroom.

The first-floor measures nearly 11,000 square-feet. Up on top, play equipment is split into two areas measuring just over 3,500-square-feet. There’s extra fencing for safety and canopies to protect children from ultraviolet rays, according to Johnson.

The structure includes the classic Jardin tower element and dragonfly signage. On the outside, three sides of the building used existing split-face block. Windows were added on the east and west sides to bring natural light into the classrooms, the architect said. Added security was a consideration for the design, as well.

Jessica Johnson

“It was fun designing the reception area and there are a lot of bright colors inside for all of the classrooms,” said Johnson. Having given birth to her first child during the project, she said it was enjoyable to learn more about how day cares operate.

The facility is licensed for 134 children and 20 staff members. It complements four other Jardin day care centers in the metro. An additional Jardin day care designed by CNH was recently approved for Apple Valley near Cedar Avenue. It is in the final planning stages.

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