The Seattle School District wanted to re-establish Emerson Elementary School as a true “neighborhood school” by doubling the enrollment capacity and enhancing its presence as a historic building. The new main circulation path, nicknamed “Emerson Steps,” unites new and old, reinforces the relationship between the school and adjacent park and maximizes space on the CAPACITY535COST PER SQ FT$153.00FEATURED IN2002 Architectural Portfolio 1½-acre site.
Emerson Steps leads from a historic archway and exterior courtyard on the east side, through an interior courtyard between the old and new buildings, to the concrete park steps on the west. With the interior use of exterior materials reinforcing Emerson’s image, the interior courtyard opens westward onto an exterior balcony that overlooks the school’s play area and park.
Emerson Steps becomes a concrete reality in layered steps, landing and amphitheater. The school acknowledges the neighborhood, the views and the sun. Emerson Steps becomes a place to enter and leave the school, eat, visit with friends, attend an outdoor class or perform a skit. Everyone benefits from the school’s new connection to the park and the neighborhood.