Boston University Children’s Center

Client: Boston University
Location: Brookline, MA
Size: 19,897 SF

Located in Brookline’s Cottage Farm Historic District, 10 Lenox Street is the new home of the Boston University Children’s Center. Working with the Boston University team through a collaborative design process, studioMLA Architects has transformed the 1904 Tudor Revival mansion into a rich and nurturing environment for children. The project integrated 21st-century technology and sustainability through high-performance building systems, healthy materials, and indoor environments, while at the same time respecting the historical integrity of the original mansion. The design team worked closely with the Brookline Preservation Commission and the Town of Brookline to maintain the building’s exterior and to ensure that the new addition would complement the historic building and site.

studioMLA Architects completed the full renovation of the pre-existing 17,000 SF building and the new construction of the two-story 3,000 SF addition which features a handicap-accessible entrance and connector as well as additional classroom space. The two existing 1,000 SF residential garages were renovated for classroom and playground support, including bathrooms, a kitchenette, and ample space for play during inclement weather. The vastly enlarged and improved program includes an open concept for the infant and toddler living room, interior space for gross motor skills and STEAM activities, flexible classrooms, and  Boston University’s Family Resource Center. Boston University’s full-time early childhood education program can now accommodate 92 children across seven classrooms.

Several mature shade trees were protected and saved during construction, establishing an outdoor play space that is harmonious with the neighborhood and has a backyard feel. The outdoor play space features a combination of natural and manufactured elements including climbing structures, a reading nook with tree stump seats, sandboxes, a tree deck, a learning garden, and a bike path. Garden beds help to grow the Children Center’s existing gardening program, while other playground elements challenge, excite and encourage exploration for varied skill levels. A one-story garage located adjacent to the garden was converted into an auxiliary classroom featuring sensory stations and a greenhouse. An additional infant playspace was built on a restored historical porch, abutting a quiet residential street.

Opened in Summer 2020, the building is ADA accessible and is designed to achieve LEED certification.

Select Photography by Keitaro Yoshioka and Janice Checchio for Boston University.