Gray Middle School that located in Tacoma, Washington, United States , was designed by Mahlum. The new Gray Middle School site and program are united within a sequence of interwoven layers – civic, school, and environment – that bring students, teachers and the community together to reinforce a shared identity and celebrate student achievement. The school, completed in December 2008, is located in the Pacific Northwest on the site of a former high school serving a low socio-economic community. Adjacent to light industrial areas, parks and recreation facilities, the project sought to create an identifiable civic building that is both a welcoming public facility as well as a safe and healthy learning environment.
Three fundamental objectives drove the design concept. The first was to enhance the connection to the greater public by designing the school to serve as a neighbourhood hub with shared facilities and adjacent community resources. The second was to create a highly collaborative environment with open visual access between learning spaces and common spaces to encourage communication. The final objective was to teach environmental stewardship by example through the provision of high performance building strategies, openly expressed to encourage student interaction.
At the heart of the 115,000 sq ft facility, a two-storey gallery provides a dynamic forum for gathering that encourages communication and collaboration. Throughout, the sustainable building supports the school’s educational objectives with healthy environments and design features that integrate curriculum with everyday activities. Outdoor learning areas and green building features connect students with the natural world and resource conservation, engaging them in the cultivation of tomorrow’s sustainable communities.