Civil & Structural EngineerCoughlin Porter Lundeen, Inc.
Landscape ArchitectSwift Company, LLC.
Lighting Designdark | light consulting, LLC.
MEP EngineerPAE Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Text description provided by the architects. Positioned at the intersection of Union Street and 13th Avenue in Capitol Hill, a densely populated urban neighborhood in Seattle, the new Middle School synthesizes its urban condition and program into a six-story academic volume relating in scale to the mixed-use commercial core along the arterial street, and a lower volume dedicated to athletics that mirrors the residential neighborhood context found along 13th Avenue.
Middle School academic spaces occupy the upper floors in the new 51,372 SF building, while the lower floors provide for entry, administration, general gathering, maker space and music instruction. A gymnasium and outdoor rooftop playfield provide much needed physical activity space. Lower floors also incorporate direct connectivity to adjacent Seattle Academy buildings, further underscoring the project’s important function as a campus connector.
Each Middle School grade occupies a floor within the building, with classrooms organized around a collaborative learning space to accommodate project-based learning and cross-discipline discovery. These collaboration spaces are designed as a series of double-height, stepped interior volumes that cascade between floors, enhancing visual and physical connectivity within the stacked program and creating opportunities for students to observe, cross paths, interact and engage beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Brick wraps the two building volumes and is punctuated by expanses of transparency, relating to the collaboration spaces, that cascade down the exterior of the building and resolve into a primary gathering space adjacent to the building entry that anchors the urban intersection. An outdoor space at the entry provides a welcoming gathering place for students and an urban amenity for the community. The façade is a mix of grey- and cream-colored bricks that fade vertically from dark to light, telegraphing the programmatic complexity and interior organization of the project. Multi-colored red sunshades provide playful contrast against the brick backdrop and express the school’s identity on the exterior of the building, with bold graphic elements accentuating the name of the school through simple and prominent typography.
Bold graphic elements continue to project the ethos of the school throughout the interior spaces. Each classroom floor features a different accent color, creating a sense of place and identity for each grade as well as a dynamic way finding scheme. A ribbon of faceted panels on the feature walls and ceilings of collaboration spaces weaves through the building, connecting these spaces and providing visual continuity both within the building and into the neighborhood.