the world's most visited architecture website
  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Elementary & Middle School
  4. United States
  5. Mahlum
  6. 2012
  7. Wilkes Elementary School / Mahlum

Wilkes Elementary School / Mahlum

  • 00:00 - 10 February, 2015
Wilkes Elementary School / Mahlum
Wilkes Elementary School / Mahlum, © Jeremy Bittermann
© Jeremy Bittermann

© Jeremy Bittermann ©  Benjamin Benschneider ©  Benjamin Benschneider ©  Benjamin Benschneider + 12

  • Architects

  • Location

    12781 Madison Avenue Northeast, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, USA
  • Category

  • Principal-in-Charge

    Gerald (Butch) Reifert AIA
  • Managing Principal

    David Mount AIA
  • Project Designer

    JoAnn Wilcox AIA
  • Project Architect

    Jesse Walton AIA
  • Project Team

    Dwayne Epp AIA, James Steel AIA, Cristine Ross Traber AIA, Amy Noe IIDA
  • Interior Designer

    NCIDQ, Masako Wada IIDA
  • Area

    64450.0 ft2
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

    • Civil Engineering

      2020 Engineering
    • Structural

      PCS Structural Solutions
    • Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing

    • Landscape

      Cascade Design Collaborative
    • Acoustical and AV

      SSA Acoustics
    • Food Service

      Bundy & Associates
    • Cost Estimator

      Rider Levett Bucknell
    • Geotechnical

      Associated Earth Sciences
    • General contractor

      Spee West Construction
    • More Specs Less Specs
    © Jeremy Bittermann
    © Jeremy Bittermann

    Text description provided by the architects. Brain research shows that play and learning are inextricably intertwined; that play is a central ingredient in the development of academic skills, school readiness, and school performance. Typical schools isolate one from the other, clearly defining times and places that each should occur independently. This physical and temporal separation has devalued play in America: more than 30,000 schools have dropped recess; between 1997 and 2003, outdoor play fell 50%; in the last 20 years, children have lost over 8 hours of discretionary playtime per week.

    Floor Plan
    Floor Plan

    By interweaving social and educational spaces, the new Wilkes Elementary School challenges this deplorable practice. The design for Wilkes embraces visual and physical connectivity so that learning can happen everywhere. Through transparency, the needs of the whole child are addressed: physical limitations to educational opportunities are removed, a range of learning styles are supported, and lines between where learning or play can occur are blurred. The functional arrangement fosters collaboration and creates opportunities for variation in scales of learning – from multi-classroom gatherings to intimate individual experiences.

    ©  Benjamin Benschneider
    ©  Benjamin Benschneider

    Emerging from the hillside, the structure of Wilkes is knitted with the natural environment and its functions with pedagogy. This organization helps heal a steeply divided site and provides the missing connection between education and facilities. The building extends into the site, alternating structure and courtyard to optimize natural daylight and erase physical separation. Courtyards slope at the east end to merge with the playground, gardens, and athletic fields that link the school to the community, while the fingers of the building reach out above, sheltering play spaces below. Circulation paths run alongside and at the end of each finger, inviting engagement and collaboration across grade levels.

    ©  Benjamin Benschneider
    ©  Benjamin Benschneider

    Within the school, Wilkes’s 450 students experience a seamless transition from classrooms to interior and exterior shared learning spaces. Glazing reinforces connectivity between classrooms and interior shared learning areas, and with the courtyards beyond. The size and composition of each learning space varies in response to the developmental needs of students to complement the school’s personalized and ability-based curriculum. In this way, the school supports dynamic teaching and independent learning that increases student accountability.

    © Jeremy Bittermann
    © Jeremy Bittermann

    A large covered area at the entry encourages community involvement by supporting casual interactions as parents drop off and pick up students. This entry feeds into the main public corridor, which provides convenient access to the library, music room, commons and community gymnasium, making Wilkes the largest public building, and new cultural hub, for the north end of the island. 

    ©  Benjamin Benschneider
    ©  Benjamin Benschneider

    With a strong community ethos as caretakers of the land, sustainable design elements are integrated throughout the new school to minimize the building’s environmental impact and operating costs, while maximizing the benefit to teaching and learning. Sustainable strategies include 100% on-site stormwater infiltration, an innovative large on-site septic system (L.O.S.S) to treat 100% of waste water on site, 100% porous paving, and heat recovery. A hybrid heating system comprising forty geo-thermal wells and a water-to-water heat pump with electric boiler assist is anticipated to be 40% more efficient than a baseline elementary school system. Student- and community-owned garden beds within the playground support a programmatic partnership between Wilkes and a nearby working farm. Interior spaces benefit from non-toxic finish materials, operable windows, natural cooling, and radiant floors that increase thermal comfort in the zone where students sit and play.

    ©  Benjamin Benschneider
    ©  Benjamin Benschneider

    View the complete gallery

    Project location

    Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
    About this office
    Cite: "Wilkes Elementary School / Mahlum" 10 Feb 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
    Read comments
    Read comments

    You've started following your first account!

    Did you know?

    You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.