June 18, 2024

2024 A4LE Washington Chapter Merit Award: Puesta del Sol Elementary

Puesta del Sol Elementary in Bellevue received the 2024 A4LE Washington Chapter Merit Award at the annual A4LE Conference last weekend in Spokane. The first full-scale net-zero elementary school to be built in the state, Puesta del Sol provides an immersive Spanish language curriculum and is organized around the Teatro del Sol, a central multipurpose public space that extends out to become a covered outdoor learning connected to a large community garden, outdoor learning and play areas, and an amphitheater for outdoor performances.

Both the building and the outdoor spaces were intentionally centered on a wetland restoration area that was formerly part of the old ball fields. The floorplan and outdoor amenities were designed to literally embrace the newly planted wetland, and the proposed elements like native planting and bioretention facilities elsewhere on the site are intended to further enhance the ecological value of the wetland restoration. The challenges associated with a tight site that has a large wetland in the center of it were utilized as potential design opportunities whenever possible. The difficulty of addressing the prerequisite grade change between the front and back of the building was reframed as a benefit and served the basis for the Teatro Plaza design with central learning stairs inspired by European examples like the Spanish Steps.

The restored wetland and buffer, in conjunction with the adjacent access trails, habitat structures, bioretention areas, and significant school garden space will facilitate a wide variety of opportunities for environmental education and serve as natural filtration areas providing pollutant removal, stormwater infiltration, and wildlife habitat.

Congratulations to the project team!

Photo: First image, Benjamin Benschneider, Second Image: Peter Tammetta, Kompan
Owner: Bellevue School District
Architect: Sierra-Martin Architects
General Contractor: Spee West Construction
Landscape Architect: Fora Landscape Architects
Civil Engineer: LPD Engineering
Structural Engineer: Coughlin Porter Lundeen

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