Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center
Where the TreesMade the Rules
At once a collaboration between the landscape and building, this environmental education project integrates ground plane and canopy experiences, with design and scale of the facility complementary to the existing steep slope, mature trees, and views across Mercer Slough to the City of Bellevue. Developed as a collaboration between Pacific Science Center and the City of Bellevue, the facility serves as a beacon to environmental conservation at the urban core and across the Mountains to Sound Greenway. Four of the eight buildings are elevated up to 25 feet above grade. Integration between engineering and design was critical throughout the design and construction process to meet strict environmental permitting regulations, challenging site conditions, and a light aesthetic imprint on the land. It’s 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.
Jones and Jones: Architect of record
Size: 10,000 ft²
Year of Completion: 2008
Lawrence Cheek, Architectural critic, author
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.