Star Lake Elementary School & Evergreen Middle School

Client: Federal Way Public Schools
Market: K-12 Education
Location: Federal Way, Washington

Each school Incorporates new branding and graphics while maintaining distinct identities by using school colors and separate entries

Evergreen Middle School is 98,600 SF supporting 800 scholars, and the New Star Lake Elementary is 59,400 SF for 525 scholars. Planned initially as separate replacement projects on the existing adjoining sites, the design team explored many solutions and gathered input from four advisory groups. The groups were created for participation during design to ensure everyone’s voice was heard while maintaining equity throughout the district. These groups included the community, school staff, district leaders, and an executive cabinet. This inclusive design process included 11 different methods of stakeholder feedback over the course of 16 months that empowered stakeholders as co-creators while managing expectations and schedules for a successful project. Once the information was gathered, the team concluded that integrating the two schools within one shared building provided multiple opportunities to achieve the identified project goals including: cultivating connections and collaboration, enhance safety and traffic, and create efficiencies in educational and operations. 

The district is one of the most diverse in the state.

Located in a single-family neighborhood, the schools needed to improve access for students and families to staff and resources, encourage self-expression to celebrate diversity, create a community hub for mentoring, and social connections. 

Sharing support areas such as food service, custodial, mechanical, and bus loading enabled the project to include additional program elements for students and families. A family connection center, hands-on discovery lab, and outdoor learning courtyard strengthen vertical teaming between the schools and foster a stronger connection to the community. 

Each school incorporates new branding and graphics while maintaining distinct identities by using school colors and separate entries; parking; administration; gyms; classrooms; scholar and staff support space; and play areas. The public spaces create a community hub near the street while classrooms are located towards the back with the ability to secure separately. Each school has a Learning Resource Center that includes the library; an active learning space called the Discovery Lab; and a Family Connection Center which houses the school counselors, PTA, and community partners. It’s adjacency to each front office encourages vertical teaming among staff at each school along with improved access to resources for families with students. Efficient circulation enabled the design team to create front porch areas for each classroom with colorful gallery walls that are writable and magnetic for personalization by each class. An efficient exterior envelope enabled the project to include high ceilings, ample daylight from clerestory windows, large window walls, and natural finishes to create a strong sense of school pride and a connection to nature. Sharing resources, leads to improved learning environments and new opportunities for collaboration.