Construction Starts on the New ULab at University Prep

Date Posted: 04.20.2022

Construction has begun on a new building at University Prep (UPrep), an independent school in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood that serves students in grades 6–12.

When complete, the 39,000-square-foot ULab will create a second academic hub for the campus, dedicated to igniting student passion for collaboration, creativity and leadership through interdisciplinary and project-based learning. The facility supports the school’s goal to increase Upper School enrollment from 340 to 450 students to foster a larger social cohort, diverse perspectives in the classroom and opportunities for expanded course offerings, clubs and athletics.

“The ULab will support UPrep’s commitment to innovation by offering students hands-on, real-world opportunities to develop the skills and entrepreneurial mindset that will enable them to thrive in a dynamic world,” said Van Katzman, a parent, Trustee and Entrepreneurship intensive teacher at UPrep.

At the center of the design, both figuratively and literally, is a double-height Commons where students can gather to study, socialize and learn. Surrounding the Commons are classrooms of varied sizes with open circulation and breakout spaces, faculty and staff offices, and a wellness space for PE, dance, yoga classes and athletics practices. Shared gathering spaces and classrooms are distributed on each of the three floors: level one features flexible classrooms that open onto the Commons; level two includes classrooms designed for art and science project-based exploration and the state-of-the-art Makerspace; the third level hosts spaces for seminar-based learning; and the rooftop deck supports outdoor learning and student gathering.

Mithun design partner David W. Goldberg said, “The daylit, naturally ventilated Commons and learning environments are designed to support student health and engagement. Agile learning spaces will easily adapt for evolving teaching pedagogies and emerging curriculum, providing a flexible framework for decades to come.”

Located across the street from UPrep’s existing campus, the ULab site is designed to welcome students and visitors through a generous entry courtyard that also functions as an outdoor learning space. Native plants and careful grading tie the building’s edge to surrounding residential streets, providing shade, habitat, and a lush screen. Other features include bioswales to treat stormwater and a roof terrace over the gym that overlooks the neighboring park.

Sustainable design aspects include a high efficiency building envelope and mechanical system, as well as a photovoltaic (PV) array on the roof.

Construction is slated to be complete in time for fall 2023 classes.

Mithun is providing integrated design services, including architecture, interior design and landscape architecture. The general contractor is Skanska. Additional design team members include KPFF Consulting Engineers, civil; Swenson Say Faget, structural; Integral Group, MEP, security, telecom and AV; Stantec, lighting design; A3 Acoustics, acoustics; 4EA Building Science, envelope consultant; Applied Building Information, specifications; Studio Matthews, environmental graphics design; Gordon Adams, hardware; WBLA, irrigation.