Construction Begins at Blakely Elementary

Date Posted: 04.02.2018

Bainbridge Island School District held a groundbreaking ceremony on March 23rd to mark the beginning of construction on the new Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary School.

The new 63,500 square foot facility will serve 450 students in preschool through fourth grade and replaces an existing school on the constrained 12-acre site. The design features a full suite of learning environments including 20 classrooms; shared learning spaces; STEM, art, music and special education program spaces; outdoor learning and play areas; a multi-purpose gym and commons; and a library set into the forest.

Mithun collaborated with teachers and staff during the educational specifications process to develop a unique L-shaped learning cluster design with four classrooms surrounding a shared learning space that opens to an outdoor classroom. This arrangement provides teachers with clear sight lines to diverse learning environments that support individual, small group and large group activities. The flexible settings support the district’s student-centric educational delivery model, and can quickly and easily adapt to meet student, teacher and class needs.

The new school will sit quietly on the wooded site, with an exterior façade inspired by the Douglas Firs that surround it. The building steps with the slope to provide on-grade access to the outdoors at all levels and to minimize height within the residential neighborhood. A central circulation spine welcomes students and community members at the arrival plaza, then climbs up the topography from entry canopy to commons, and terminates at a beloved library in the woods.

Extensive views from classrooms toward the large learning courtyard or to the forest beyond reinforce connection to nature throughout the learning experience and celebrate the rural Bainbridge setting. The courtyard features small shared learning classrooms, as well as larger, more rustic gathering spaces that immerse students in nature and quiet study. The outdoor play area is designed to encourage exploratory play with heavy use of natural materials and forms.

To conserve resources and minimize impact on the environment, the school incorporates high performing energy systems, a ground source heat pump, natural ventilation and all spaces designed for full daylighting. A significant amount of open area, formerly lawn, will be restored to a native forest condition, and stormwater will be managed on site to mimic existing forest conditions. The landscape design features extensive use of plants native to the island, as well as drought-tolerant ornamental grasses.

To enable ongoing school operations during construction, the new facility was designed to fit on the existing playfields and open space. Thoughtful construction sequencing ensures student safety and outdoor play space at all stages of work. The old facility will be demolished and landscaping completed after students and staff move into the new building in fall 2019. The school is also designed to accommodate a potential future expansion to 600 students through the addition of a sixth classroom cluster.

Mithun is providing architecture, landscape architecture and interior design services. Forma Construction is the general contractor / construction manager (GC/CM). The team also includes Arup (MEP, lighting and security), PCS Structural Solutions (structural), LPD Engineering (Civil), JLR Design Group (food service), Robinson Company (cost estimating).