Medina, WA 2005-2006
Partners: Medina PTA
It was true that the old school building needed to be torn down – Medina Elemetnary School was more than 50 years old – and the new building would be bigger and lighter. But the students, parents and alumni were sad about losing a building was filled with character, stories and history. Would a new building have the same feeling? Would it represent this community and the students? Or would it feel stark and standard? The parents, teachers and administrators wanted to make the new building even more special than the one being torn down – a place to inspire learning, grow with the community and reflect their values.
Pomegranate Center helped teachers, children and their families work together to integrate art and education into the new architecture, creating a plan that would infuse the new school with surprise, color, learning and inspiration.
Students, parents and teachers create special art projects to put into the new building. They made an 18’x12′ painting of a heron made up of the handprints and fingerprints of all the students and teachers, which hangs in the new school library. And each classroom created a series of large concrete tiles that depicted a story or theme from something they learned that year – the lifecycle of a frog, the five senses, musical instruments from history. Each series of tiles lives in a street light – made of salvaged I-beams from the old school – leading up to the school. In the back of the school, Pomegranate Center designed a small amphitheater and stage – the ages of the earth are illustrated on the stage floor. The school’s central courtyard features a 12′ square terrazo “milky way galaxy” (1 foot equals 5,555 light years). And a sundail and reading circle for older students is tucked into the grassy section near the back.
“We love our school!” is what we hear from every student, parent and teacher at Medina Elementary School. The handmade feel and unique materials in the projects added life to the new construction. Kids eat lunch in the amphitheater and teachers hold class at the sundial. The galaxy in the courtyard was so popular with kids and teachers that they added a giant picture of the galaxy from the Hubble Telescope to the wall. And teachers are working with their new classes to create new tiles for the empty lightposts. It is a school where the space adds to the learning and curiousity of the students.