The large windows, the bright rooms and the wrap-around courtyard all struck Dana Macdonald when she stepped inside the newly built Bright Horizons child development center back in November.
"I loved the layout," Macdonald recalled. "It was just very inviting."
Macdonald immediately enrolled her 3-year-old twins in the preschool program and has been gushing about it ever since.
Apparently, she's not the only fan,
The Bright Horizons corporation — which runs more than 600 child care centers for corporations, hospitals, universities and government agencies in the United States, Canada and Europe — has three centers for the public in the New Tampa area. The company is looking to mimic the design of the Tampa Palms location, estimated around $3 million, for future centers in Florida, said Bright Horizons regional director Beth Gelber.
It's a decision that Macdonald says makes perfect sense.
"In every corner, there is something that gets your attention," she said.
From the courtyard that links to every room to the playground featuring five different types of surfaces, Bright Horizons is looking at this newest location as "the model for the next century of childhood education," Gelber said.
During a corporate training conference, Gelber was asked what she wanted in a new center, and she listed three main desires: a lot of natural light, rooms of adequate size and a nice flow to the building.
"This is it," Gelber said, sweeping her hands around her during a recent tour of the Tampa Palms location where her husband, Steve, is director.
The couple, married 27 years, used their experience running the Hunter's Green and the Seven Oaks locations to dream up the latest venture.
"Bright Horizons presented us with plans so that we could move forward," Beth Gelber said. "They hired the architect and it turned out amazing."
She credited rojo Architecture, a Tampa firm, for listening to them and "nailing it."
The village concept includes wings, but no interior hallways. There are windows in the walls to see from classroom to classroom. There are three playgrounds, a swimming pool (coaches from the New Tampa YMCA provide lessons) and an outdoor stage for theater productions. Everything is labeled, from doors to chairs to shelves, and potty seats sit low to the ground.
To send a child costs between $290 and $1,130 a month, depending on the number of hours and the child's age.
Macdonald, the parent of twins Colt and Cade, said she's thrilled with the facility and with her boys' instructor, who has his teaching degree.
"I have been so pleasantly surprised," Macdonald said. "It's been a blessing."
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 909-4613 or firstname.lastname@example.org.