Milton-Freewater school receives design award

A Milton-Freewater elementary school recently earned an outstanding project award from Learning by Design magazine.

Architects West, with offices in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, designed the first all-new school facility constructed in the Oregon city since 1923. Architects West worked with design consultant Opsis Architecture of Portland on the project.

The $20 million Gib Olinger Elementary School is about 50 miles east of the Tri-Cities, south of Walla Walla. It opened in fall 2018 at 1011 S. Mill St.

The 75,000-square-foot K-3 school was funded through a combination of a multi-million-dollar private grant, local bonds and matching funds from the state of Oregon’s first ever matching funds program.

The school’s design, which included input from educators and community groups, includes devoting larger amounts of square footage to classroom pod collaboration areas that allow a flexible, collaborative teaching model and incorporating organization tools in fixed finishes such as a carpet pattern pathway, according to a news release from Architects West.

The school’s capacity is 650 students.

In addition to the school-day functions, the funding was leveraged to benefit a broad section of the community by designing a multiuse building, including physical education and common spaces that serve as multifunctional rooms and enable secure after-hours access, according to the release.

Sustainability features, such as 20-kilowatt photovoltaic display, were incorporated, as well as salvaging glue-laminated beams from the historic Seneca cannery that was demolished to make way for the school on the 10-acre site.

For 29 years, Learning by Design’s Educational Architectural Awards program has peer-reviewed, scored and critiqued thousands of new prekindergarten through 12th grade schools and higher education facilities nationwide.

Judges look for projects showcasing novel design thinking, strong facility planning attributes and success for exceeding the community’s or stakeholders’ operational, functional and programmatic goals, according to the magazine.

Employee-owned and -operated Architects West has been providing architectural and landscape architectural/land planning services throughout the Northwest since 1973.  

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