In 1997, an outdoor classroom was built for the Montessori Preschool a Montessori daycare center that serves a University of Washington residential community.
The project provides a covered space for the children to play, gather and perform in inclement weather. The structure also links a series of gross and fine motor skill activities designed into the structure. In addition to creating a useable structure the studio explored the use of sustainable building techniques including straw bale seating walls for story time and performances, a roofing material made of recycled paper and asphalt and low VOC paints. The students applied their handprints on the finish stucco coat of the straw bale wall, personalizing the structure. In addition to the structure and play elements a native garden was planted providing a place for teachers to hold nature classes outdoors.
The children and teachers were integrated into the design process with the students creating drawings in the beginning of the design process and the teachers reviewing the designs at all stages. The students also were provided the opportunity to observe the building process and ask questions.