In February 2020, WhiteSpace Architects’ principal Laura Ayers attended the blessing of the new KCAA Atherton Preschool classroom building in Kailua.

It will welcome its first students – keiki as young as two years of age – this fall.

It was over five years ago when WhiteSpace first began discussing the project with Kimo Steinwascher, chairman of the KCAA Board of Trustees, and Christina Cox, KCAA president.

The Atherton Preschool desperately needed more classrooms. Though the non-profit’s budget was extremely tight, the Atherton Preschool did have the space: A derelict, 1940s-era cottage existed on the property, but it was unusable and unsafe.

A New Building

Laura and Elyse Takashige, the project manager, envisioned a new 1,200-square-foot building using same footprint as the cottage. A clear goal was creating a connection between the existing Atherton school and the new building, despite it being, for budgetary reasons, a basic modular structure at its core.

The new building features a classroom for toddlers, as well as a kitchen, bathroom and a teachers’ workspace. Two covered lanais provide shaded exterior learning areas. It connects well to the rest of the school site with walkways and stairs opening directly to the playground.

Exterior design features like railings and the beige-and-aqua color scheme have transformed a modular structure into a thoughtful classroom building that Atherton Preschool educators and current families look forward to enjoying.

WhiteSpace thanks Christina and Kimo for their guidance throughout the design process. Kimo Naauao of HSMS Construction expertly kept the work on track, despite it requiring a unique foundation. The Harold K.L. Castle and Alexander & Baldwin Foundations both generously supported the project.

KCAA and WhiteSpace Architects have forged a fruitful partnership, with the firm now assisting in a pro bono design charrette for its administrative offices, located at Mother Rice Preschool in Moiliili.