The Bertschi Center is a pre-kindergarten through 5th grade independent school located on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
The school has grown steadily since its inception in 1975, starting with the renovation of an existing church on the site,
and adding more renovated structures as it grew. Miller Hull reviewed with Bertschi their existing facilities and developed
a phased renovation and master plan program for their entire site. With the completion of the new Bertschi
Center, the school now occupies the east side of an entire block along a busy neighborhood street. The scale of the distinctive
concrete form on the east facade of the new building on the south of campus acts as a counterpoint to the old church steeple on
the north, anchoring the edges of the school with iconic elements. It contains a large glazed opening that allows views into the
gym/performance space and reflects to the community the activities within the school. The 12,290 SF building also contains art
and music classrooms, an art gallery and below grade parking. An internal site walkway provides a
safe link to new and existing play areas and buildings, pulling the entire campus together. A parent and staff passion for native
habitat helped influence a design which fosters urban wildlife and provides areas for outdoor education and a connection to nature
that is often missing on school sites. Large roll up glass doors open the gym to the all-weather synthetic turf playfield which
eliminates irrigation, minimizes maintenance costs and allows all school events to take place here.
Miller Hull worked with the students to focus on other sustainable strategies. There is a high degree of environmental consciousness
among the children, which has been fostered by the teachers. All of the sustainable features of the building and it’s systems are
recorded and made available to the children as part of the curriculum thru a touch screen monitor located in the art gallery. A
rain water harvesting system stores roof runoff in large cisterns; one, below grade in the parking garage and two others, above
grade in galvanized steel cisterns which have become playful forms in the play areas. Level indicators measure the amount of rainwater
stored and flow meters record the amount of rain water used for toilet flushing and irrigation to the native, drought tolerant landscape.
Photo voltaic panels displayed as tree-like elements are part of a renewable energy system which supplies 6.6% of the buildings energy requirements.
A weather station on the roof correlates daily conditions with energy use and production. A green roof covers the entry canopy.
A conscious effort was made to choose building and site materials that are sustainable and have the lowest long term impact on the environment.
Recycled and locally available materials were used and the life cycle of materials was also considered.
The project is LEED™ Gold certified.