Mahlum - Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, Lake Washington School District in Kirkland, Washington Print
Saturday, 13 March 2010 16:03

Set within a residential neighborhood interlaced with equestrian trails, horse paddocks and mature stands of Douglas fir trees, Benjamin Franklin Elementary School shares its 12-acre site with a large wooded area.

Recognizing the value of this rich environment, the new replacement facility is positioned to preserve and harness the forest as a site amenity and learning opportunity. Moreover, it is designed to reinforce connections with the broader surroundings, and achieve green goals for resource efficiency and sustainability.


All photos by Benjamin Benschneider

The 56,000 SF building’s classroom wings reach like fingers toward the woods to visually connect students with nature, and fill interior spaces with abundant natural light and ventilation. Small communities of learning thrive within groups of four classrooms around a multipurpose activity space. Shared resources – including a sci-art lab, computer room and music room – link the communities and green design features make science tangible.
Mahlum_franklin_01Between the two-story wings, landscaped courtyards with native plants feature art installations, bio-filtration areas for stormwater management and a water feature fed by roof runoff. A variety of settings along the courtyards and in the forest are designed for classes to gather, observe and discuss.
Mahlum_franklin_05Mahlum_franklin_06aMahlum_franklin_07A commons area opens onto the main corridor and provides an inviting ‘family room’ for use by groups before, during and after school. Library, gym and administration are available for secure evening use by the community, and a partnership with Parks and Recreation resulted in multi-sport playfields and passive recreational improvements within the woods for all to enjoy.


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Last Updated on Monday, 07 June 2010 08:24