The new Tillicum Middle School is a Marketplace of Learning, with environments that put learning on display and give students and teachers numerous ways to interact. Core classrooms, the library, and programs for science, CTE, and art are organized around a series of shared informal indoor and outdoor spaces. The design encourages programs to overlap, allowing for grade-level houses, as well as mixed-grade learning. Grouping science, CTE, and art also promotes STEAM programs, opening new opportunities for students and teachers to explore ideas and make discoveries together.
Doubling the school's capacity presented the challenge of providing a continuous sense of human scale throughout the building and site. The design responds by organizing the program around indoor and outdoor spaces that track the daily movement of light to create a rich sensory experience. Interior and exterior "courtyards" alternate so a relationship with nature permeates, even when staying inside. The character of these spaces stimulates multiple educational and social uses for all students—extroverts and introverts alike—offering the chance for serene, relaxing moments as a counterbalance to the hustle of a busy school day.
A surprise inside Tillicum is the Oval Courtyard—a portal to the outdoors wrapped in glass, with views to the sky, weather, movement of the sun, and changing seasons. Biophilic design principles throughout the school increase student awareness of the interactions between architecture, nature, and sustainable choices. Honoring these connections, Tillicum will be in the top 1% in the U.S. for energy efficient schools.