Interior Design

The Children’s Workshop

This dynamic, playful, and extremely energy efficient private school was designed to meet the special needs of 75 students ages 4-12 with severe communication, learning, social and behavior problems associated with autism and other development disorders.

After years of looking and finally securing a CUP, the non-profit TIEE purchased a very dated and tired 1980’s era multi-tenant strip center across the street from the Miramar Air Station.  Staff worked hand in hand with the design team to cleverly repurpose the 21,000 s.f. commercial/light industrial building into an unexpectedly wonderful indoor/outdoor learning environment students, staff, and parents are truly excited about.

At the Children’s Workshop play is an important learning tool, so a third of the existing parking lot was converted into an irresistible, highly tactile play/park space which the rest of the school literally wraps around. The CW model is based on one-to-one instruction and therapy.  To meet this need, three distinct “villages” were created, one for each of the different age groups. Within each village is a series of individual learning “huts” providing areas of instruction which enhance focus and minimize distractions.

A desirable sense of openness was achieved by drawing natural light deeply into all the spaces, this was achieved by cutting in oversized skylights and replacing all the existing roll-up garage doors in the high bay spaces with storefront.

A fully functioning kitchen and laundry was provide to teach students the basics of self-care and independence. The wide-open, general activity area is the heart of the school where students can engage in a variety of sensory and motor activities, congregate for musical performances and plays, host staff in-service, as well as parent functions.

The Children’s Workshop, by design, is intentionally not supposed to look or feel like a typical institutional school. It is engaging, airy, efficient and fun-ultimately serving it student’s and family’s so beautifully well.


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  • Project Awarded

    Orchid Nominee

  • Project Address:

    9524 Kearny Villa Road, San Diego 92126

    Project Owner/Developer:

    The Institute for Effective Education

    Owner Contact Name/Email:

    Suzy Fitch

    Project Architect/Designer:

    Kevin deFreitas Architects / LandLAB – Landscape Architect / Bowyer – Environmental Graphics and Colors

    Image Credit:

    Darren Bradley & Stephen Whalen


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P.O. Box 122228
San Diego, CA 92112-2228
Federal Tax ID: 95-3513927

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