Lake Hills Elementary School
2006 MCAA International Excellence in Masonry Award Winner
R & D Masonry, Inc.
Architect: Contacts Without Company
Lake Hills Elementary School in the Bellevue School District is a new 69,000 SF building that replaced the previous building on the same site. Lake Hills Elementary school is unique in that it has a rich cultural diversity, more than half of the families at the school speak a native language other than English. This diversity is celebrated with the knowledge that unity and community are at the core of the school.
The overall form of the building is a U shape that wraps and protects a student courtyard in the center. The courtyard is a crossroads and gathering place for students. This is the physical core of unity at the school.
Masonry materials are used as the primary exterior surface of the building. Split-faced, colored CMU of various sizes are used in an ashlar pattern - this represents diversity of the students interlocked together to make the shell around the classroom areas.
The smooth red brick is a traditional school material that represents homogeneity and unity. A sinuous curved wall runs the length of the main hall and projects over the main entry to welcome people into the school. This wall curves inside the building past the glass wall that connects people to the courtyard. The brick also wraps the administrative offices - at the head of the school, it is a place of unity and tradition.
A curved line of brick pavers link the entry plaza to the curved brick wall. Another curved line of pavers arcs though the courtyard connecting it to the main hall of the building. At the entrance foyer there are panels that fill the 2 story space - each panel is etched with the words "Everyone is welcome" in 21 different languages.
The masonry along the lower walls creates a solid base that grounds the building with the earth. The long horizontal windows with sunscreens and shelves bounce the light deep into the school. This day-lighting allows classrooms and the library to operate without artificial light at various times. Day-lighting has been shown to improve academic performance, save energy, and better connect people to the outside environment.
Technology, thoughtfully incorporated in the architecture plays a vital role at the school. Lake Hills is at the forefront with applying technology as an everyday learning tool. All classrooms are networked, wireless ready, and equipped with smartboards - which work as touch-screens - integrated with the teacher's computer and capable of saving or printing whatever is written on them. TVs have been replaced with ceiling mounted projectors that integrate with video, computers and the smartboards in every teaching space. The classrooms are large (about 1,000 SF) to better accommodate the variety of activities that occur throughout the day in an active elementary learning environment.
The use of forms materials, light and technology were carefully developed from the school's unique blend of unity and diversity. The new Lake Hills Elementary is a place where "Everyone is welcome."