Mary Lyon Elementary School

Tacoma, WA

Serving 450 students with programs for inclusive autism, English as a second language, Title 1, and Pre-K through grade 5, Mary Lyon Elementary School will provide dedicated educators with a collaborative setting and tools worthy of their amazing efforts, while offering valuable engagement services and acting as a beacon of hope for this tight-knit but under-served neighborhood.

The three-story building and L-shaped plan preserve valuable outdoor space for children’s play on one of Tacoma’s smallest school sites, while an entry plaza both invites the community in and honors the school’s tradition of each teacher, parent, and student gathering at the day’s transitions for camaraderie and security. A boldly designed library dramatically spans all three stories of the school, and references to the Puget Sound setting and to language learning are woven into the building’s architectural and site elements. The rich themes offer different layers of discovery and a sense of equity and empathy amongst students of various backgrounds. Classroom neighborhoods with moving walls allow for camaraderie, informal learning in shared areas, and flexibility of project-based and other modes of learning and gathering in this Next Generation Learning facility.

Expressive and practical sustainability is embedded throughout the design, from stormwater features to exterior sun shades, and roofs covered with large arrays of photovoltaic panels.