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Genesee Hill Elementary School

  • Client:

    Seattle Public Schools

  • Completion:


  • Location:

    Seattle, WA

  • Type:


  • Size:

    91,000 SF

  • Construction Cost:


Replacing a neighborhood school

Situated in a densely populated West Seattle neighborhood, Genesee Hill’s site is a six- acre, oblong rectangle that is split on the diagonal by a 30-foot elevation difference between the upper and lower halves. The original 1949 school had been built at the ‘top’ of the site, with the playfields on the lower portion; so separated by distance that they didn’t get much use. Our design team’s charge was to develop a design that made better use of the whole site and integrated gracefully into the surrounding residential neighborhood.


Maximizing site usability

The building and play areas were cited on the upper portion of the site and parking was accommodated on the lower portion. A central concrete stairwell connects the parking area to the upper portion of the site and footpaths offer multiple routes between site areas. A large south-facing courtyard provides outdoor classroom space and was designed to also serve as a sensory garden for students with special needs.

Genesee Hill ES_4

Small learning communities

Small learning communities are organized by grade level and each offers general classrooms and shared learning area, small group break out rooms, teacher work/prep space and support spaces.

Genesee Hill ES_5

Infused with natural light

Extensive use of glazing infuses the interior with natural light and maximizes views from the interior to the site’s forested portion and views from the upper floors to Puget Sound.

Genesee Hill ES_6

Maintaining neighborhood context

The new Genesee Hill Elementary is an example of the graceful and efficient integration of a large school within a well-established residential neighborhood and the accommodation of immutable challenges of terrain, site size and orientation in a manner that enhances circulation efficiency and safety, and maximizes the usable area of the site for both scholastic and community use.


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