West Seattle


Completed September 2015


Gladys Ly Au Young | Principal in Charge
Wingyee Leung | Project Architect
Rick Sundberg, John Kennedy, Frances Nelson, Myra Lara | Design Team
Nicole Lew | Design Team, Graphics


55,000 SF (35,000 SF renovated / 20,000 SF new)

An adaptive reuse project that transforms a 1970s church facility in West Seattle into a new independent school, containing Pre-Kindergarten through Eighth Grades.

The unique, “wishbone” shaped nave of the existing church structure inspired both the architects and the school to preserve the 45ft tall glulam arches and use them as the back bone for a modern, educational facility. Using the existing structure gave us the opportunity to create dynamic spaces that promote imagination and creativity.

We worked closely with the school community to determine the most effective and cost efficient way to adapt the existing structure to a complex educational program. 35,000sqft of existing space was reconfigured, creating new classrooms, offices, support space, lunchroom and storage space. An additional 20,000sqft of new space was added to the existing building, including a floor of classrooms inserted into the 45ft tall nave.

Reimagining the church facility as a school required changing the buildings’ relationship to its neighborhood. A new entry provides a central, transparent gathering and display space where parents, faculty and students can connect with each other. The architecture provides a range of learning environments and spaces that engage students. “Idea spaces” are carved into the classrooms to provide flex space for spontaneous meetings and informal, smaller, group learning. Other “found” spaces encourage interaction, creativity, and curiosity.

Energy Use Westside School is one of the most energy efficient schools in the region, complying with Seattle Energy Code using the c407 compliance path, a comprehensive energy modeling approach, and the building is projected to use 19 kBtu/SF/yr, 40% less than at a standard school (35 kBtu/SF/yr). This was achieved with envelope upgrades, energy efficient lighting with all fixtures being LED.

Westside School