Fern Hill Elementary School

Tacoma, Washington

  • FIRM

    BLRB Architects


    Tacoma School District

  • AREA

    54,630 sq.ft.





Built in 1911 to replace the original 1887 school, Fern Hill Elementary School is an important place for Tacoma residents. The architect took on the challenge of designing an updated facility that met educational goals, preserved the school’s history, and honored the community’s ties to the facility.

Preservation of the school’s history was critical to linking ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY350COST PER SQ FT$216.00FEATURED IN2007 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation 120-year past with present-day education. Wood trusses from the 1925 gym were reused in the new foyer, and the 1888 school bell was relocated atop the building. A new school entrance leads to Heritage Hall, featuring photographs and elements of the old building. In order to preserve the historic edifice, the original brick was cleaned, repaired and sealed, restoring the luster of the 1911 building. Additionally, the original brick was used internally to signify the transition from the old building to new additions.

Classrooms are significantly larger; shared activity spaces have been incorporated between pairs of classrooms to support individual and small-group learning; and student and community services are dispersed throughout the building.

Sustainable features and concepts bring a “green” sense to the 95-year-old building. Extensive daylighting, natural ventilation linked to an HVAC system, daylight-controlled electric lighting and non-toxic interior finishes provide a high-performance and healthful learning environment.