McCarver Elementary School2111 South J Street
Tacoma, WA 98405
Design Achievement - Originally constructed in 1925, McCarver Elementary School has always been a leader in educational practice. By undergoing a complete modernization, this beloved building now offers innovative learning solutions while keeping its historic charm. The student population, grades K-5, includes a considerable transient populace which results in turnover as high as 179% annually. DLR Group’s design enables a sense of belonging and ownership for McCarver students through thoughtful, student-centered design solutions. The spaces designated for congregating, eating, and learning support a forward-thinking International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum – including components such as fresh food preparation, flexible, shared learning spaces, and a community-focused “McCarver Square.” A new feature, a “Da Vinci Room” is a place for making things, exploring science, and creating art. Throughout the school, spaces are designed to easily reconfigure for adaptability to curriculum or program needs, and support an ongoing presence of numerous community partners.
Scope Summary - The scope of work for this project encompassed 80,000 SF of renovations to the 3-story building. McCarver Elementary is listed on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places, requiring diligent attention to exterior improvements during the modernization. Building systems, interiors, and furnishings were replaced and restructured to support the progressive learning techniques taught to the school’s 450 students. A “Green Light System” encourages natural air flow with windows, and the corresponding mechanical system shuts off to conserve energy. Additionally, the school received significant seismic reinforcements and ADA upgrades. By adding a garage door to the cafeteria/large group learning space, the school is more accessible for community use, including an accessible teaching kitchen. The cafeteria and servery supports the food service needs of McCarver's breakfast and lunch service, and also provides sack lunches for three additional schools. DLR Group was responsible for developing Tacoma School District’s elementary educational specifications, and provided architecture and interior design for this project.