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DTP_93_062013 large

Baker Middle School

  • Client:

    Tacoma Public Schools

  • Completion:


  • Location:

    Tacoma, WA

  • Type:


  • Size:

    118,320 SF

  • Construction Cost:



Helping all students succeed

The diversity of Baker’s student body and the breadth of educational programs and instructional needs the school must support make this middle school unique among many of its peer schools. Situated in the heart of a marginalized urban neighborhood, children from military families comprise approximately 25% of the student body, contributing to higher than average turnover each year. More than 15% of Baker’s students require special education support and 10% of students receive instruction in transitional bilingual programs to strengthen English language skills. Additionally, Baker provides the satellite Deaf and Hard of Hearing program for Pierce County. 


Fostering community

The development of a replacement school that would enhance educational outcomes, facilitate personalized instruction and foster a sense of inclusive community within its diverse student body were leading design imperatives. Community access, safety and security, flexibility, integrated technology and environmental stewardship were also leading design drivers.


Integrated learning spaces

Baker is organized by grade level into small learning communities, breaking down scale and offering a smaller ‘school within a school’ experience. To serve the diversity of student learning and language needs, specialized program spaces are integrated throughout the learning communities, rather than being segregated. The integration, rather than segregation, of these spaces enhances community-building among students.

Generous use of interior glazing and operable partitions between classrooms and corridors facilitate teacher supervision of both breakout and corridor space and further enhances the flexibility of space for program needs. Open gathering spaces in the upper grade level communities support age-appropriate social interaction and supervised relationship building.


Building as a teaching tool

The integration of sustainable design features both inside and out make Baker a model teaching tool for science and math curricula. A Building Dashboard allows students to study resource usage in real time and a one-half acre interpretive/environmental education space provides a variety of outdoor applied learning opportunities.

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