Garfield High School, Renovation/Addition

Seattle, Washington

  • FIRM

    BLRB Architects


    Seattle Public Schools

  • AREA

    243,000 sq.ft.





Built in 1923, Garfield High School presented a unique design challenge: maintaining the historical, architectural and cultural legacy of a beloved community icon while transforming an obsolete building into state-of-the-art educational space. The school, with an alumni list that includes world-renowned musicians, artists and athletes, had long ago ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY1,600COST PER SQ FT$360.00CITATIONRenovation/Modernization CitationFEATURED IN2009 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation its usable space. Several piecemeal remodels had left the school disjointed and disconnected.

The architect facilitated an extremely effective community-based planning process involving multiple stakeholders—community leaders, parents, students, teachers, administrators and alumni—to shape the project’s design. A critical by-product of those meetings was the determination of which building features could and should be restored and which should be removed or reconfigured. The final project goals called for a unification of the campus, graceful integration of old and new construction, flexibility of use and future adaptability, accommodation for community participation and enhancement of student achievement—all while preserving landmark features.

The design included a rehabilitation and reorganization of the three-story, 170,800-square-foot structure into four distinct "personalized learning environments," providing flexibility for multiple instructional models from grade-level teaming to departmental organization or interdepartmental clustering. Advanced educational technology, including wireless, voice enhancement, digital projectors and interactive whiteboards are integrated into all learning spaces. The addition of an 83,700-square-foot annex provided space for a sophisticated 600-seat performance center, an 1,800-seat competition gymnasium, and a teen resource center operated by Seattle Parks.

This project was designed to meet the State of Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol (WSSP) or LEED silver equivalent. The building envelope was upgraded, and mechanical systems were replaced. Operable windows, natural lighting, low-VOC materials and a new HVAC system dramatically improved indoor environmental quality. Original architectural features were repurposed throughout. Drought-resistant and native landscaping negated the need for permanent irrigation, aiding in stormwater management and safeguarding water supplies.

"An extremely functional adaptive reuse that is sustainable and integrated well into the community."--2009 jury