15th Annual Design Charrette
27-31 March 2000

The city of Tukwila is sliced into quadrants by the intersection of two interstate highway, resulting in a steep topography and disconnected pedestrian environment.  With 70 percent of the land zoned commercial, the area is dominated by cars and a major shopping center.

The Tukwila School District asked CEEDS to generate suggestions for improving children's opportunities to navigate this alien outdoor environment.  In a pre-charrette seminar, graduate architecture students conducted a needs assessment in Tukwila that included cognitive mapping and design sessions with fifth graders from all three elementary schools.

Based on their needs assessment, the pre-seminar students refined the goal for the charrette as: create informal learning opportunities at 12 city landmarks (sites of learning) and link them to the schools via pedestrian pathways.

About 200 children and adults participated in the charrette, including Tukwila staff and children, graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, and design professionals.  It began with fifth graders presenting their design ideas and discussing giant aerial photographs of the 12 sites of learning with the design teams.

This week-long charrette resulted in proposals that incorporate sketches by the fifth graders.  They include: (1) interpretive trails and signage to make children aware of the history of Tukwila; (2) a comprehensive bicycle trail with bridges, bus shelters, and interactive compasses; (3) outdoor classrooms and public art at the three elementary schools; and (4) a habitat corridor to link the yards of private and multi-family housing with the school yards.

CEEDS and the Tukwila School District continued to collaborate on implementing these ideas over a three-year period and eventually the city of Tukwila installed sidewalks nearby all of Tukwila’s schools.

Graduate research assistants for this project included John Ambrosio (education), Jim Borgford-Parnell (education), Brendan Connolly (architecture), and Sein Dee Konieczny (education).
Click here for a complete description of the Sites of Learning Charrette.