Mahlum - Thurston Elementary School, Springfield, Oregon Print
Tuesday, 28 September 2010 06:31

Mahlum-Thurston-09The school’s gentle, sloping silhouette reflects directly how the building communicates with the surrounding McKenzie River valley’s tree-lined hills to the south and north of the project site. Sheets of exposed, tilt-up concrete create a structural rhythm that expresses the scale of these hills and grounds the building to its site.

The community and student population approach from the west while the cost offers access to outdoor learning. On these sides, the pedestrian scale is reinforced by lap siding.

Tilt-up concrete panels proved to be the most economical local construction method. On the interior, the exposed, smooth concrete panels create a contrasting break line with the richly detailed wood surface of the public spaces.


Mahlum-Thurston-03Inside, classroom wings are connected by public zones with low rooflines that embrace the K-5 population. Wood-framed glass walls bring light and views from the outdoors into transparent connectors, including the entry, library and commons. Rich woodwork reflects the historic importance of the Springfield timber industry, and showcases local craftsmanship.
Clerestory windows light the second floor bridge. The two-story glass walls connect children to the learning garden outside. Playful views into the commons below allow children to interact with friends.

Large classroom windows, in combination with exterior sunshades and interior light shelves, provide natural daylight and views to the surrounding hills and valley. Light-colored walls and ceilings allow classrooms to be naturally daylit throughout most of the day. Built-in casework conceals radiant heat air diffusers below the windows. Displacement air provides 100% outside air to each classroom.
Four classrooms are grouped around one break-out space which has direct access to the outdoors. The internal transparency allows teachers to observe students at all times and encourages the development of smaller learning communities for each grade level.

Public spaces, such as the commons, encourage access to the outdoor learning courtyards where students can follow the rainwater cycle in runnels and bio-swales.
Winner of 2010 CAE Educational Facility Design Awards (Citation)

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 November 2010 08:54