The Marysville Getchell High School by the DLR Group is an interesting approach to a relatively new concept of a “learning community”. A grouping of buildings centered on an inner courtyard with interconnected learning spaces creates a new aged and innovative design.
The “learning community” concept, adopted by the school district, was a driving factor in the schematic design development. New educational programs led the conception of five guiding principles for the new programs: Relationships at the Center, Focused Learning, Identity and Purpose, Community, and Accountability. The four educational structures placed throughout the site represent four separate programs designed for the area: Global Connections, International School of Communications, Bio-Medical Academy, and the School for the Entrepreneur. These four independent buildings are placed around a central Community Commons which houses shared activities such as P.E., kitchen and server, café, and support spaces.
The four schools are similar in design and yet the open floor plan and dispersion of learning spaces create an environment conducive to the learning experience. A system of movable interior walls allow for adaptive use over time.
Set against a wooded background, the Marysville Getchell High School blends natural and modern elements to harmonize with its surroundings. Surrounded by wetlands and a forest of second-growth trees the structure has a presence yet is still connected with its natural surroundings.
Intersecting volumes create an interesting play between solid and void. Those same volumes create visceral connection between interior and exterior. From the outside the solid/void carries through and classroom and administrative offices are clearly articulated and materiality changes with the program.
The interaction of spaces and the overall independence that is inherent in the layout of the campus allows for more student participation. The most abundant resource of the site, the landscape, is constantly used as a part of the experimental and pioneering education experience.