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2009 Exhibition of School Planning and Architecture. Sue Buel Elementary School. McMinnville, Oregon Elementary School Project of Distinction/New Construction Mahlum. Sue Buel Elementary School. Transforming the land. Community Environment:

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Sue buel elementary school

2009 Exhibition of School Planning and Architecture

Sue Buel Elementary School

McMinnville, Oregon

Elementary School

Project of Distinction/New Construction


Transforming the land
Transforming the land.

Community Environment:

Sue Buel Elementary School resides at the center of three distinct areas: a residential neighborhood, an industrial district and the Linfield College Campus.

Once an abandoned asphalt plant, the development of the prototype school transformed the land into a new area of life, beauty, recreation and vibrant activity.

The rejuvenation of this once vacant site now provides a central destination for the study of green techniques and land preservation.

Ensuring a positive impact
Ensuring a positive impact.

Community Environment (cont):

Geared for environmental stewardship, the building intends to leave a small carbon footprint on its site and a large impact on its students.

Partnerships with the City of McMinnville, MAC Water & Light, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency, and Oregon Department of Energy have contributed to the brownfield reclamation, installation of solar arrays, an interactive electronic kiosk describing sustainable features and an exterior interpretive trail.

Begin your journey
Begin your journey.

Learning Environment:

“Education is a life-long adventure – enter here to begin the journey.”:: Sue Buel, former McMinnville teacher

The words welcoming all who enter Sue Buel Elementary School symbolize a community’s belief in the continuous process of learning.

As the first replacement school in McMinnville’s history, the school was built with a goal to promote a sustainable and relevant educational journey by providing flexible, high performing spaces.

The facility is not only designed as a place for teaching and learning, but also as a teaching tool.

An inspiring backdrop for learning
An inspiring backdrop for learning.

Learning Environment (cont):

Pending a “LEED for Schools Gold” rating from the US Green Building Council, the facility’s green elements and high performance outcomes have been integrated into the curriculum.

Kindergarten through fifth grade students are taught sustainable subjects including Healthy Choices, Healthy Habitats, The Wonder of Water; Community, Choices that Make a Difference, and Exploring Energy.

The building provides an inspiring backdrop to this curriculum, emphasizing flexibility and discovery in both public and private areas.


Physical Environment

The building’s ‘front porch’ consists of public areas opening to play fields and walking paths.

Large windows and garage doors create transparency and connection between indoor and outdoor learning. The library, administration and gallery link community areas in the south to learning clusters in the north. The north two-story classroom bar is planned for flexibility in learning clusters and break-out areas.

Each learning space has ample daylighting, abundant storage and is a high performing atmosphere for learning.


Physical Environment (cont):

Supporting sustainability in education, the school enhances unique location conditions and emphasizes flexibility between academic (“private”) and community (“public”) settings, while a large covered play area at the center anchors the public bar to the “heart” of the school.

Other sustainable elements in the facility include heat recovery ventilators, displacement ventilation, solar roof panels, double-glazed windows, dual-flush toilets, reduced irrigation, water treatment swales and renewable materials.

Community involvement
Community involvement.

Planning Process:

The planning process involved administrators, teachers, staff, students and community members. Project visioning, eco-charrette and programming discussions occurred during an intensive two month timeframe. Evening community forums established the goal for the creation of a “sustainability center” for the community.

Schematic Design and Design Development sessions with teachers and staff helped to fine-tune the design to ensure that the building supported education for today and into the future. We continue to provide educational sessions with teachers, staff and students to teach about the sustainable elements of the building and how to effectively operate the systems.

Support for today and into the future
Support for today and into the future.

Planning Process (cont):

Our continued involvement with the project has proven successful:

:: Programming/planning: Intensive group and one-on-one meetings: December 2006 – January 2007

:: Community brainstorming session: January 2007

:: Design: Weekly meetings with teachers / staff, two week-long detailed charrettes: January – May 2007

:: Documentation: Bi-monthly meetings with teachers/staff: May - September 2007

:: Construction: Principal in weekly meetings: August 2007 – August 2008

:: Partnership meetings/development of signage and display materials: June – September 2008

:: On-going education with school community: September 2008 – June 2009

:: Utility fair at school: July 2009