FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington announced Tuesday it entered into a contract with CHA Architecture of Portland to design the new UMF Sweatt-Winter Early Childhood Education Center. It will be in the former NotifyMD call center at 274 Front St.

The former NotifyMD building at 274 Front Street in Farmington will be renovated for the new University of Maine at Farmington Sweatt-Winter Early Childhood Education Center. UMF photo

The University of Maine board of trustees approved the purchase in January for $849,000. It was done with the support of the University Workforce Bond approved by Maine voters in November 2018, according to a UMF news release issued Tuesday.

After needed design and structural changes, the 10,384 square-foot building will create an enhanced learning environment for children in Sweatt-Winter’s early childhood programs. It will also provide improved instructional space for more than 200 UMF students preparing to be early childhood educators.

In addition to providing families with quality child care, Sweatt-Winter serves as a research site for investigating new approaches to early childhood education and as a lab school for UMF education majors where best teaching practices are taught and demonstrated by onsite UMF faculty instructors.

“Sweatt-Winter has been an important resource for families in our community and our students preparing for careers in education for over 30 years,” said Katherine Yardley, UMF associate provost and dean of education, health and rehabilitation. “It serves Maine by providing high-quality care and education for area children, while serving as an exceptional field placement for early childhood and early childhood special education majors who will become the next teachers and educational leaders in early childhood programs and schools.”

According to the release, the building committee will continue to assess building needs and review the design throughout the construction process.

“We are so proud of what we do every day to provide high-quality, affordable child care and early education at a time when this service is of critical importance to families,” Julie Farmer, director of UMF children’s programs, said. “We are thrilled with the promise of a new facility and to have a space where our programs can continue to grow.”

Matthew Pitzer, CHA architecture practice leader, will be the lead for the project.

Founded in Portland in 1977 as Portland Design Team and later known as PDT Architects, CHA Architecture specializes in the design of sustainable, high-performance buildings in the education, health care, multi-family housing, office/corporate, state/municipal and historic preservation sectors.

Sweatt-Winter is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. A preschool program for ages 3-5 and a before- and after-school program for ages 5-8 are available. For more information contact Farmer at 778-7480 or [email protected]


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