The Cathcart Site is a steeply sloped site comprised of 70 acres in a rural/suburban zone of the county. The site was conceived to house two schools a high school and an elementary school. The buildings of the two schools are located close to each other so they can share event parking, the high school's auditorium and other site facilities. Their proximity also allows high school students in certain programs to monitor elementary students, thus building community on the site.
Originally a second-growth forest, the Cathcart site overlooks a valley with spectacular views to the Cascade Mountains to the east. The design concept was shaped by a desire to do justice to the former and remaining site character, interpret its memory, and imbue the new experience with a rich and varied relation to nature. Integration of the site's memory should hopefully raise students' and the community's awareness of the fragility and importance of our natural habitat. Despite the extensive man-made site interventions, including fields, parking, and 310,000 square feet of buildings, individuals continuously find themselves relating to the surrounding nature in many different ways. The "mythical" distant views are constantly rediscovered as one circulates through the site and buildings; a tactile sense of landscape can be felt as one passes by numerous rain gardens. The project design focuses on the experiential quality of architecture as an essential ingredient for meaningful learning and growing.