Pathfinder Kindergarten Center

  • area / size 65,000 sqft
  • Completed 2017
  • DLR Group was engaged by the Mukilteo School District to design the Pathfinder Kindergarten Center located in Everett, Washington.

    Faced with a State mandate to instate full-day kindergarten and accommodate growing capacity demands, Mukilteo School District funded the design and construction of Pathfinder Kindergarten Center, a 65,000 SF facility with capacity for 600 young learners. The design creates spaces to support early learning, while maximizing the potential provided by the synergy of age-specific students. In an effort to elevate learning, the school program was redefined to reduce time lost to transitions.

    To reduce transition time, DLR Group introduced two concepts for the new school: push-in specialists and decentralization of services. The push-in specialist concept revolves around a specialist traveling to the student, not vice versa. By providing a break-out space in, or directly outside every classroom, specialists can come to the students. The time to transfer materials and supplies needed for each lesson is limited through use of cubbies in the classroom and cupboards in the shared areas. Using windows and intentional views, supervision of groups is easier for all teachers working with or around a group of children. Additionally, the large dining commons found in traditional schools is broken down into four smaller dining rooms embedded in the learning suites. Functionally, this provides a more intimate dining experience, and enables better supervision. The immediate adjacency to the classrooms also has expanded the usability of these shared areas throughout the school day. Rather than having a centralized gymnasium space, both indoor and outdoor play space is scaled down and distributed adjacent to the learning suites. By moving these amenities throughout the facility and site, scale is more age-appropriate, and allows for ease of supervision. This child-centric approach reduces daily transition time for students up to 30 minutes for a six-hour day. When extrapolated across a full school year, that results in 90 hours, or 15 full days of learning recaptured.

    Given its significant effect on learning, indoor environmental quality has required diligent attention, including temperature, air quality, daylighting, and acoustics. With the kindergarten students spending a lot of time learning on the floor, heat is provided from radiant floors heated by a geothermal ground source heat pump.

    ArchitectDLR Group
    Contractor: BNCC, Inc.
    Photography: Chris J. Roberts Photography