We are thrilled about the future Seattle Girls’ School home, designed in collaboration with Mahlum Architects and the SGS community. Once we had a great location secured in the Central District, student and staff made their priorities clear, the Mahlum team set out to design the campus of our dreams.
They have done an amazing job! The first part of the building will be ready for students in the fall of 2022 but here’s a sneak peek at some of its most outstanding elements.
Space built for collaboration
Our project-based learning model is integral to the SGS experience and our new building will encourage students to work together. A large gathering area will house our community meetings and all other full-school events. Permeable classrooms and flexible spaces will allow us to maximize square footage and ensure our built environment fits our collaborative approach—not the other way around.
With an efficient floor plan, sliding glass walls between classrooms and common space allow for collaboration within but also between classrooms. The fluid spaces give teachers and students full creative control. Our space will finally reflect the philosophy that subject and curriculum elements can blend into each other—learning shouldn’t happen in siloes.
While we value working together in free-flowing spaces, our students also recognize the need to step away to focus and recharge. This is where the “eggs” come in. These individual pods, large enough for one or two students, offer the opportunity for alone time or one-on-one work. They are meant to feel cozy and encourage introspection and focus.
Integrating our natural environment
Caring and advocating for our environment is part of the SGS experience. This isn’t just where we live; our natural environment is a part of us and our new home must integrate and nurture it as much as possible. The design seeks to minimize our impact on the earth, use resources wisely and support learning opportunities connected to the environment. The building plans include solar panels with room for expansion on the roof, low-energy LED lighting, and a low-carbon footprint building frame. Garden spaces, including rain gardens, will provide opportunity to grow plants, vegetables, and flowers. They also act as natural filters for water runoff, which offers environmental benefit and creates beautiful spaces.
A phased approach
Construction will happen in three phases over a period of years. Phase 1 includes 15,000 square feet of space built to offer flexibility and make the most out of every inch. This construction includes classrooms, administrative areas, and the STEAM room where students explore programming, robotics, microbiology, and more. It also includes green areas for outdoor learning, eating, and exploring.
We look forward to adding a gymnasium and a little more learning space in Phase 2. Phase 3 will allow for growth in the overall student enrollment with more learning spaces, a multi-purpose dining hall along with added administrative area.
Building for our future
We are proud of this design and the collective efforts of so many SGS supporters to secure the property. We are excited to start construction in early 2021 and see the design transform into the built environment. Project Manager Corrie Rosen said it best: “This project is the little train that could. It is incredible that SGS can do so much in a space that currently does little to support their cross disciplinary, hands-on learning. It will be amazing to see how the built environment can amplify student agency in service to their mission to empower female leadership.”
This project is not just about the physical space we are building. Our new school will nurture sustained relationships among students, faculty, and other members of our SGS community. This is the building where future leaders will find their voices and champions of change will gain their courage. The impact of this space will so much greater than 15,000 square feet.
We have been living the SGS mission for almost 20 years. Now we will finally have a home that reflects that mission.
To learn more about the intensive planning process behind the final design, check out our recent story: Building A New Home.
To learn more about our Rise Up Campaign, visit https://www.sgs-riseup.org/.