Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center

Bellevue, WA


Where the TreesMade the Rules

Nestled into the wooded slopes that line the historic shoreline of Lake Washington, this environmental education center is a collaboration between Pacific Science Center and the City of Bellevue that serves communities across the Mountains to Sound Greenway. With only 10% of buildings touching the ground, four of the eight buildings are elevated up to 25 feet above the forested ground, creating a birds eye view of the riparian landscape. The modest footprint serves a diverse community, from preschool children through seniors of western Washington and the Bellevue School district, with community engagement, environmental education, STEM programming, and community service guiding the development of this place and inspiration of partner organizations.

Jones and Jones: Architect of record

Space : Touching Ground: 10,000sf : 1,000sf

Cantilever: 20 feet

These buildings are not made of granola, and they don’t pretend that human presence in the forest is a small or insignificant event. But the smack of several treehouse-like buildings is less than one large one, and the irregular shapes gave the designers opportunities to create architecture with the spaces between buildings. The geometric relationships change constantly as you navigate the complex.

Lawrence Cheek, Architectural critic, author

AIA Seattle
2009 Honor Award

King County
Green Globes Award

Modern Steel Construction
August 14, 2015

Seattle PI
January 26, 2009