Kalamazoo Nature Center

Nature's Way Preschool

Kalamazoo, Michigan // 4,532 sq. ft.

Client Challenge and TowerPinkster Solution

The Nature’s Way Preschool (NWP), offers early childhood development learning experiences as an extension of the classroom, connecting children to the outdoor world. This concept of Nature-Based Learning has been pioneered by NWP and they are one of the most established nature preschools in the Nation. As part of their “No Child Left Inside” campaign, the NWP desired to enhance and expand their preschool program and remain a leader in the nature curriculum and educational offerings. Nine acres of natural areas serve as the “outdoor classroom” in combination with a theory and research-based curriculum. The design solution placed the building within the surroundings of the natural property and creates an outwardly focused preschool which blends the indoors and outdoors through expansive natural lighting, window seats, and views down the ravine to the flowing creek below. The outdoor free play areas allow for interaction with nature, exploration through the forest and along the creek and creative play by using natural elements such as boulders, logs, dirt, and terrain to connect to the land. The natural setting and expansive outdoor deck area create a learning environment which serves as a teaching tool and a place for educational activities – allowing for an entire classroom of students to gather and learn while outdoors.

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