Three new classroom buildings helped usher in the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) in Western Washington; creating stimulating, sustainable learning environments for young students.
Championed by the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, the project tested this innovative new building product in an educational setting, filling the need for additional classrooms for schools located in the Sequim School District, Mt. Vernon School District, and Seattle Public Schools.
For all three schools, Mahlum worked closely with the design-build contractor, Walsh Construction, to create a single modular design that was efficiently built on each schools’ site with few modifications. All load-bearing walls in the buildings are constructed from CLT and are left exposed on the interior. As a result, students are surrounded by natural wood, which has been shown to provoke positive psychological responses similar to how trees elicit biophilic responses.
The roof of each building spans the width of the structure and do not rest on any interior walls, while a central, shared activity space anchors the four surrounding classrooms. Together, these design strategies have created flexible interior learning environments that support individual and small group learning, with the ability to change over time, create different spatial opportunities and allow teaching methods and building use to evolve.
Upon completion of each project, a Washington state official visited the new buildings. Shown in the photo at top is Governor Jay Inslee and below is Congresswoman Suzan DelBene with Jesse Walton of Mahlum Architects.