Finance and Operations; Graduate School; OUR Clemson

Clemson’s new Child Development Center growing up fast


A digital painting of a modern one-story building with children playing on a grassy lawn in the foreground.
A preliminary design rendering of the southern elevation of the center.

CLEMSON – The corner of Old Greenville Highway and Seneca Creek Road is a busy place these days as construction of Clemson’s new Child Development Center ramps up for its scheduled opening in the fall of 2020. A thick wall of trees between the roads and the site mostly hides the hubbub, but commuters driving to and from campus might glimpse the unmistakable canary yellow of construction equipment blinking through holes in the foliage.

At the moment the center looks to be little more than a scraped-away plot of land with a few holes and ditches dug next to a grassy hill, but that is going to change quickly, said Clemson engineer Sam Zanca, the project manager.

“What’s happening now is the early site work–underground utilities, erosion control, the underground foundation–things below grade,” said Zanca. “We’re going to leave the hill. We figure that will be a good spot for the children to play.”

Within a few months the new state-of-the art center will rise from the ground. Finished, it will host up to 132 children, aged six weeks to five years, and 20 employees daily.

“This job’s like no other I’ve ever had,” said Zanca. “It’s a complex project, in a sense that we’re not designing a building for adults, but for children. I don’t do that every day, so it’s a lot of fun.”

The site was selected because of its proximity to the University and roads. It’s close enough to campus that parents who teach can stop in during the day to care for their children and then go back to work.

A man in an orange shirt smiles at the camera in front of a grass and dirt field with construction equipment in the distance
Clemson University engineer Sam Zanca, project manager for the new Child Development Center, stands on the CDC building site, June 5, 2019.

“All of that was taken into consideration when we selected this site,” said Zanca.

Security and safety were the primary considerations when designing the center. Some features will include observation rooms attached to each classroom, and video cameras that will monitor the entire exterior.

“The criteria we follow is the Department of Social Services criteria, and we’re also designing to National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) criteria,” said Zanca. “It will be very secure.”

Outside, there will be large playground areas for designated age groups, with bike/trike trails looping around and through. From the top of the hill, children will be able to watch soccer games on the Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Center fields. The building will feature a bridge that extends from the second story and leads into the five-year-old playground area. Zanca predicts that feature will be very popular.

“The children can come out and just play on the bridge and pretend to be all sorts of things,” he said, smiling. “Children have imaginations that we can’t even comprehend.”

As the construction progresses, more information will be shared about potential employment opportunities at the facility, the child enrollment process, the opening date, and more. Future updates will be available on the Child Development Center website.

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