The team of A2H + HOK was hired by the State Department of Children’s Services to develop a plan to construct a replacement Youth Development Center adjacent to the existing facility. Located in West Tennessee, the goal was to develop programming, planning and concepts for what would be the modern standard for youth development center in the state. The project was divided in distinct tasks starting with investigation of current and future directions nationally and internationally defining population count, staff to student ratios, housing, counseling, education recreation and support space requirements. This analysis would inform the following tasks which included a survey of existing conditions, visioning, programming, schematic design and site development. This study would establish the necessary funding required.
The new Wilder Youth Development Center will be the primary facility in the state. It will house 144 youth in five standard housing buildings plus a special living building. Each standard building is subdivided into two 12 bed units while the special living is subdivided into three 8-bed units. Each housing building includes a unit manager, group rooms, counseling and case workers. Great care was taken to create a normalized environment including abundant natural light, dedicated outdoor recreation, colors, materials and furnishings. Each youth bedrooms has substantial exterior glazing, a vanity and toilet and storage unit. Even the doors are wood grain to lend a softer character.
The planning provides extensive medical and counseling opportunities and provides a therapeutic, learning environment. There is a high ratio of case worker to youth, a large education facility with a central auditorium and facilities for 6th through 12th grade. Vocational training facilities are flexible to support future programs as well as current ones including a video recording lab, information technology, culinary arts, haircutting, landscape and horticulture and shop.