Kirkland, Washington


Program: A two-story, 66,580-square-foot public elementary school for 600 students. The building, which replaces a roughly 40-year-old school on the same site, consists of a steel-structure classroom wing with a library and office, along with a concrete structure housing a gymnasium and multipurpose performance space.

Design concept and solution: After four decades in an inward-focused building with little outdoor communal space, Carl Sandburg Elementary wanted an extroverted building with a strong connection to the landscape. To keep the school open during construction, the architects sited the new structure north of the old. They wrapped the two wings around a grove of big-leaf maple trees, and deferred to the grove’s shape by angling the classroom wing away from it. The NAC team clad the building with a combination of concrete masonry units and prefinished steel siding. To emphasize the school’s environmental focus, they mounted solar panels on a galvanized steel frame affixed to the glazed facade; the panels double as shades for the computer lab inside. The architects divided the academic wing into neighborhoods of three or four classrooms. Each neighborhood is anchored by a central communal classroom with glass walls and doors, which gives teachers the flexibility to observe several groups of students at once. The classrooms open onto patios and other outdoor learning areas near the maple grove. For the interior materials the team chose a natural palette. They defined the main public areas with a textured fir-panel ceiling, which extends from the commons to the library, and set off the corridors’ dark gray carpet and polished concrete with warm finishes such as stained-MDF wall panels. In addition to the solar panels, the school’s sustainable features include geothermal heat pumps, daylight-responsive lighting, and a rain garden.


Client: Lake Washington School District

Owner: Lake Washington School District

2025 First Avenue Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98121
Phone: 206-441-4522
Fax: 206-441-7917

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Colin Jones, AIA, LEED BD&C, Principal-In-Charge
Kevin Flanagan, AIA, LEED BD&C, Educational Planner
Mark Gifford, AIA, Project Manager
Matt Rumbaugh, AIA, Design Principal
Amanda Clausen, LEED+, Interior Designer
Lukas Shu, AIA, LEED, Project Architect
Erik Tremain, Architectural Technician

Architect of record: NAC|Architecture

Interior designer: (performed within firm) Amanda Clausen

Structural/Civil: Coughlin Porter Lundeen

Mechanical: Hargis Engineers, Inc.

Electrical: NAC|Engineering


Landscape: Weisman Design Group, Inc.

Acoustical: Sparling & Associates

General contractor:   SpeeWest

Benjamin Benschneider Photography
Phone: 206-789-5973

Completion Date:

September 2012

Gross square footage:

66,580 gross square feet

Total construction cost:




Structural system
Steel frame and insulated concrete form wall by Quad-Lock

Exterior cladding
Masonry: Concrete masonry units, Mutual Materials

Metal Panels: AEP Span

Metal/glass curtain wall: EFCO

Curtain wall: EFCO

Elastomeric: Fibertite single ply thermoplastic roofing

Metal frame: Aluminum, by EFCO

Skylights: DEA-MOR and Major Industries

Insulated-panel or plastic glazing:

Metal doors: Curries

Wood doors: VT Industries

Fire-control doors, security grilles: Overhead Door Corp.

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: Armstrong

Suspension grid: Armstrong

Paints and stains: PPG Industries / Miller Paint Co.

Resilient flooring: Nora Rubber Flooring

Carpet: Mohawk

Interior ambient lighting: Pinnacle

Downlights: Essentia LED

Exterior: Gardco LED

Dimming System or other lighting controls: Wait Stopper Daylight Sensing Controls

Elevators/Escalators: Thyssen Krupp

Energy management or building automation system: Alerton

Photovoltaic system: Sunpower