Bellingham Public Schools created design precepts to ensure that their new Administrative Offices embodied the community’s educational investment. To that end, RMC spent time engaging with the District’s executive team and staff prior to design to discover what kinds of spaces would best serve the public.
To promote collaboration and a more mobile work environment, the District chose to reduce the number of offices in the new building and move to a laptop/cell phone business model where employees could move about the building and even work outdoors on nice days.
Meeting both Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol (WSSP) and Fitwel standards were key component of the project. In addition to the sustainable design features required by both organizations, some of the Fitwel categories are based on walkscore, views, stairs as an option to elevators, and access to alternate forms of transportation, all criteria that the new Administrative Offices meet.
The design brings in daylight by locating all collaboration spaces close to exterior walls. For those employees who do require offices, glass walls allow for borrowed light from the open office. By keeping the building footprint narrow, natural light easily penetrates deep into the interior spaces. Located opposite the workspaces is the Early Learning Center (ELC) consisting of two classrooms and a play yard that connects to an interpretive cutting garden for the kids.
To honor the community, the heart of the building near the main entry was designed to be warm and inviting with a coffee bar, comfortable seating, a children’s art display from the ELC, and the reception area to greet visitors. The space is infused with natural light through clerestory windows. Interior finishes of exposed regional, cross-laminated timber (CLT) provide warmth within the space in addition to reducing the carbon footprint of the building.
Both levels have professional training spaces for offsite employees that consist of large conference rooms that can be divided by acoustic pocket doors to adapt to a variety of functions. A roof deck, adjacent to the training center is oriented towards the south and southwest to take full advantage of the sun and warmth. The roof deck can be used for a variety of District functions and community events.