Schools as Community Catalyst



  • Primary Core Competencies: Educational Facility Pre-Design Planning
  • AIA CEU: 1. 0 LU
  • Secondary Core Competencies: Design of Educational Facilities


As the density in cities grows, so do the needs for civic facilities that serve the population throughout the year. Restrictive sites, needs for year round community spaces, and city’s need to create a cohesive and identifiable urban center. This session will explore how in Renton, Washington (just outside Seattle) the new downtown Sartori Elementary School is serving as a new prototype for school campuses to support high-density development, eliminating the need for a larger project site. In addition, the vertical design creates more open space available to students and the surrounding community for recreational use. It is located in a designated Regional Growth Center, that will collaboratively serve 650 students, combining a community based elementary school with a magnet STEM program. Through a highly collaborative process the functions on the site, and within the facility step in the right direction toward achieving the city’s vision, so that the city center and downtown become “a cohesive, identifiable urban center where people live, work, learn, play and visit.”

Learning Objectives

OBJ #1  Understand how a city’s growth plan are symbiotic with development of an urban school.

OBJ #2  Explore the varying considerations, challenging the status quo, in elementary school design to better support collaborative use of spaces as the lines between a community center and elementary school blur.

OBJ #3  Explore how schools and communities can create stronger ties through experiential learning curriculum.

OBJ #4  Develop critical analysis through the evaluation of a real world example where the opportunities and challenges in bringing forward innovative ideas in site design, curriculum, and shared use overlap.

Rebecca Baibak, AIA, NCARB, REFP, LEED AP, Principal, Integrus Architecture

Matthew Feldmeyer, R.A., Capital Projects Manager, Renton School District

Brianne Tomlin, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Senior Associate, Integrus Architecture