Nestled deep in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, Villa Academy occupies 32 acres from the shores of Lake Washington to 35th Ave NE. A former orphanage, the property now hosts this Archdiocese school serving 350 middle and elementary age students. Outdoor Classroom Design worked in collaboration with Daniel Winterbottom and Ken Yocom of the University of Washington Landscape Architecture Department, creating an outdoor master plan and accompanying place based curriculum.
We began by working with 7th grade science classes, exploring and mapping the 32 acres of campus – identifying opportunities and challenges. This information was passed on to teachers during an all staff charette, where participants were challenged to identify stories in the landscape and connect them with favorite lesson plans and curriculum themes.
The resulting place based curriculum and masterplan links academic and social/emotional growth goals with special places and stories revealed in the landscape. Dubbed Villa’s Outdoor Learning Initiative, the plan outlines short, medium and long range improvements supporting curriculum arcs in all subjects taught at the school.