The Bertschi Center
The school is a pre-kindergarten through 5th grade independent school located on Capitol Hill in Seattle. As an urban school expansion project it provides more opportunity for families to live in the city where they work, therefore reducing transportation demands. The center is an extension of an existing elementary school to an adjacent, previously developed site in the middle of a neighborhood of moderate density. One component of the project was the renovation of a single family home into administrative offices and a preschool classroom. The second component, a new classroom building incorporates below grade parking for 18 cars and 5 bicycles to maximize green space around the project and minimize the build-up of heat from the paving.
With the completion of the new center, the school now occupies the east side of an entire block along a busy neighborhood street. The scale of the distinctive concrete form on the east facade of the new building on the south of campus acts as a counterpoint to the old church steeple on the north, anchoring the edges of the school with iconic elements. The 12,290 SF building houses a gym/performing arts space, art and music classrooms, and an art gallery/lobby. A new internal site walkway provides a safe link to new and existing play areas and buildings, pulling the entire campus together. A parent and staff passion for native habitat helped influence a design which fosters urban wildlife and provides areas for outdoor education and a connection to nature that is often missing on school sites. Large roll up glass doors open the gym to the all-weather synthetic turf playfield which eliminates irrigation, minimizes maintenance costs and allows all school events to take place here.