Core Design Team

Firm: Mahlum
David Mount: AIA Leed AP
JoAnn Wilcox: AIA Leed AP
Rebecca Hutchinson: AIA
Jay Hindmarsh: AIA CCS Leed AP
Joseph Mayo: AIA Leed AP
Laura Poulin
Dwayne Epp: AIA SCI Leed AP
Keyna Mulvaney
Yuendi Mak
Jesse Walton: AIA Leed AP
Matthew Linn: AIA Leed AP
Gerald (Butch) Reifert: FAIA


Cascade Design Collaborative: Landscape Architect
Coughlin Porter Lundeen: Civil Engineer
PCS Structural Solutions: Structural Engineer
Hargis: Mechanical/Electrical Engineer
Stantec: Acoustical Consultant
The Robinson Company: Cost Consultant
Bayley Construction: General Contractor

Project Narrative

Education is an evocative word, yet currently, schools are formalized spatial structures, designed to give instruction that prioritizes competition over cooperation. Fragmented disciplines are further segregated and standardized by the built environment, devaluing both the connections and relationships between spaces. Northwood is an eco-system of fl exible and
fluidly connected spaces that promote a new model of civic practice in education.

Northwood is located on an island, positioned directly between the cities of Seattle and Bellevue, for a community who had not built a new school since the 1950s. 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.

Engaged on a hillside, Northwood balances the public and private nature of education by layering learning around a quiet central courtyard that opens toward adjacent community campus partners. 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 the main entry, overlooking a large protected porch that invites parents and community to participate in education.

Continuity and flexibility are paramount to building a civic practice in education. L-shaped classrooms are clustered in pairs to maximize shared ownership. By nesting pairs of classrooms with resource-rich shared learning spaces along a continuum, it breaks down scale while maintaining a strong relationship within the larger school community. In addition, new typologies of learning are formed in the spaces between, where incubator programs emerge, led by community liaisons.

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

Leave a Reply