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exterior shot of building and play area.

Discovery Meadows Child Development Center

Discovery Meadows Child Development Center | Gaithersburg, Maryland

Innovative Child Development Center Embraces Sustainability

Teamwork was key to the successful completion of Discovery Meadows, a two-story, 23,500-sq.-ft. child development center that serves over 180 children of employees of a bio-pharmaceutical research and development campus in Gaithersburg, MD. The facility includes activities rooms, a STEM learning resource center and pavilion, preschool rooms, employee offices and numerous outdoor play areas.

About the Project

Featuring a curved design and concrete exterior combined with steel, glulam and cedar wood components, the building’s unique architecture incorporates both butterfly and flat roofs. Constructed on a greenfield site, the LEED Platinum certified structure embraces sustainability as a teaching tool. Among its many green elements: geothermal-driven radiant floor slabs, a rainwater harvesting system, high open ceilings allowing extensive natural daylighting, and natural ventilation through operable windows, to name just a few. During sitework, DPR uncovered 23 large boulders that were incorporated in the design of the play zones.

The Challenges

The project team was challenged to find cost savings that would bring the project into alignment with the client’s budget needs during preconstruction. Although this impacted the substantial completion date, the team was committed to working through the challenge to keep the project on track.

Design and installation of the building’s radiant heating/cooling system also presented various coordination, design and installation challenges. The geothermal radiant slab heating system featured concrete slabs with large amounts of PEX distribution tubing, which could not be punctured during construction above the slab level. The team worked closely together to limit slab penetrations, using GPR scanning to assure tubing in the slab was always avoided.

Installation of piping inside the curved building also proved to be a complicated and challenging endeavor. To make the curve, piping joints were required every few feet, and the welding crews needed to carefully execute their work to exacting specifications. The mechanical contractors’ prefabrication facility prefabbed the piping in the limited mechanical space, providing all building systems from the lower level, coordinating layout of the system mains to avoid conflicts both vertically and horizontally.

Progress shot of project.
Progress shot of construction site.
Progress shot of construction site.
The Solutions

The high degree of teamwork fostered by the design and construction team was a major driver behind the project’s success. During preconstruction, the team collaborated on ways to reduce costs to meet the owner’s budget, completing an extensive and successful redesign and value engineering process.

Throughout the design and construction process, the team remained intently focused on delivering a highly sustainable project that incorporated building systems that created a comfortable environment for students and all building occupants. They leveraged 3D modeling to coordinate all of the mechanical and plumbing components, optimizing routing for the ductwork and piping which was carefully fabricated to fit the curved building geometry. Scanning technology was utilized to ensure that all of the piping and ductwork fit together as planned.

The team used a design-build approach to deliver the mechanical systems that support the basic slab heating and cooling. Because the high, exposed ceilings offered no room for typical MEP systems, the solution was to use the limited ceiling space along the spine to conceal mechanical and plumbing components.

Interior shot of building.
Interior shot of building
Exterior of building
The Result

DPR successfully completed the Discovery Meadows Child Development Center project on a 16-month schedule and within the owner’s budget.

Exterior of building

Featuring a curved design and concrete exterior combined with steel, glulam and cedar wood components, the building’s unique architecture incorporates both butterfly and flat roofs.

Project Awards

Engineering News-Record

ENR Mid-Atlantic 2018 Best Project

The project was recognized with an Engineering News-Record (ENR) Award of Merit in the ENR MidAtlantic 2018 Best Project competition.


2018 Award of Excellence

The project was recognized as a 2018 Award of Excellence from the DC / MD NAIOP.

Interior of building
Exterior shot of building.
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