This project was recognized in the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education's 2017 Education Facility Design Awards.
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Northwood is an eco-system of flexible and fluidly connected spaces that promote a new model of civic practice in education, designed for an island community near Seattle that had not built a new school since the 1950’s. The project occupies the corner of a large, multi-use campus, adjacent to one of the last remaining stands of Madrona trees on the island, on a steeply sloped site at the head of a major geological outlet to Lake Washington. On the upper level, the entry is engaged on a hillside, and provides a large public porch intended to allow parents and students to linger undercover. From there, the design wraps around a central courtyard that opens to the Madrona grove, play space and a Boys & Girls Club. Learning spaces ring the courtyard: classrooms on two levels to the north respond to the quiet residential context, community spaces spin outward to engage site partners to the south, while administration and outreach programs flank either end at points of entry.
Continuity, variety and flexibility are paramount to the ability-based learning program. L-shaped classrooms are clustered in pairs to maximize ownership and function as resource-rich learning and small group spaces. By nesting pairs of classrooms with shared learning spaces along a continuum, it breaks down scale and maintains a strong relationship to the larger school community. In addition, new typologies of learning are formed.
An outdoor “exploratory lab” leverages the contours of the site to create a sheltered space between the built and natural environments. An indoor “discovery lab” leverages two previously underutilized community spaces – the library and the cafeteria – to form a new hybrid; equally maker-space, quiet-dining and home for expert in-residence programs.
Sustainability is approached with equal innovation and integration, with many physical connections as curricular:
• 100 kW rooftop solar panels
• Weather stations and energy modeling kiosks visibly integrate with Next Generation Science standards
• Waterways and naturalized treatment allow hands-on experimentation for instruction and play
• Planted green roofs, balanced daylighting, displacement ventilation, radiant flooring and high performance envelope create human comfort and the beauty necessary for psychological space
• Durable roofing and cladding assure the investment will be protected for generations to come