West Seattle Elementary School


A new two-story, six-classroom addition built into a significant slope on site at West Seattle Elementary School expanded capacity for a new generation of young learners. Significant renovations across the existing school expanded the prominence of the library and delivered more natural light into the space.

PCS helped reduce project costs by providing a crawl space that worked with the existing slope and avoided the expense of a basement wall. To transition from the existing basement wall to the crawl space, PCS designed a sequence of short retaining walls which didn't undermine existing foundations and averted the need for shoring.

The community emphasized the need for a central outdoor greeting space, so in collaboration with the project architect, PCS designed an oculus self-supporting, internally braced steel canopy with a central skylight and only perimeter columns. This standout feature provides a unique focal point at the school's entry.

Another project goal was to move the library to the front and second story of the building, allowing more natural light to penetrate. Through a special analysis, PCS proved the existing floor framing was adequate for library loads, allowing for the removal of a braced frame based on seismic analysis. PCS also detailed a series of round steel columns which resupported the mechanical attic without shoring, providing more access.