Marlene Borruso on the Design of the Children's Home Society of NJ's New Early Childhood Center and its Impact on Hamilton

Thursday, June 30, 2022
Architecting Insights

USA Architects, Planners + Interior Designers, Ltd. is thrilled to congratulate Children’s Home Society of New Jersey (CHSNJ) on the Vivian B. Shapiro, MSW, PhD Early Childhood Center, a project of Early Head Start and the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey.

Dr. Vivian B. Sharpiros Family cutting the ribbon alongside CHSNJ CEO and NJ First Lady

USA Architects has been supporting Children’s Home Society of New Jersey as their architect since 2018. We are so incredibly impressed with various ways the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey supports children and families in the local community and throughout the state. Their new Early Head Start Building will providing high-quality early childhood education and comprehensive services to 80 infants and toddlers aged 0–3, as well as to over 100 home-based mothers and infants. Repurposed from the Liberty Street Building, which had been supporting the local community for over 60 years as an apartment building, a grocery store, pharmacy, and elder care facility, the new Early Head Start building will support children’s readiness for school through individualized learning experiences and a safe and healthy environment to learn and grow. 

Project Team Left to Right: Ron Meier – MGW Construction President, Micah Parker – SVP Avalon and EHS/HS & CHSofNJ Board Trustee, Marlene Borruso – Sr. Project Manager, Karen Courtney – COO, Steve Chupa – Facilities committee, Jim Shea – Board Chairman

The first floor was designed with paired infant and toddler rooms sets, separated by large glass pocket doors to create small communities within the building that encourage interactions between the two age groups to stimulate growth and compassion among the children.  Interior and exterior windows were added throughout the building to increase the children’s’ access to daylight and calm, and natural colors and materials were used to create a warm and inviting environment. The building supports children and families with a full-service kitchen that prepares healthy and nutritious meals for the infants and toddlers at the facility, and for all other Head Start Programs run by Children’s Home Society of New Jersey. The facility also provides a mother’s room to allow new mothers a quiet place for feed their children during the day. The bright daylight indoor play area was designed for flexible use, not only by the facility’s infants and toddlers, but also for socialization groups, parent meeting groups, and other after-hours programs to support families.

Speaker: Edith Ramirez – Member of the Head State Parents Leadership Council.

The second floor of the building houses the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey’s Early Head Start Home Visiting Program, and includes an office space for all the home visiting staff, as well as a variety of meeting spaces.

Besides supporting the community through direct services to children and families, the new Head Start building will also add 48 new jobs to the Hamilton/Trenton Area, and allow new caretakers to return to the workplace with the reassurance that they will receive safe and healthy childcare. 

As an architect, I can say I am very proud of being able to partner with Children’s Home Society of New Jersey in helping to design and construct a project that will have long-lasting impacts on the community, and will give children and families the head start they need for the healthy, happy, and successful future of their dreams.   


- Marlene Borruso, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD + C, Fitwel Ambassador, WELL AP

Click HERE to learn more about the Project.