Experience Magazine 2022

New Upper School Building

The spring of 2022 saw the opening of a the New Upper School Building, a scenic space for growth and learning. 
In early May 2022, Lara Swimmer ’87, distinguished architectural photographer with a background in documentary film, came to campus to photograph this generation of Bush students in the New Upper School building featured in this article.

The view was familiar, yet new at the same time. Standing  behind a wooden lectern on a mid-May morning on the  Upper School Campus, Head of School Percy L. Abram was  preparing to address the hundreds of students, faculty,  and staff in a moment of celebration of the New Upper  School Building. This moment marked the first time since  2019 the entire Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade had  gathered together as one.
“This building behind me is what The Bush School  community has built for you, our students and faculty  now, and for those who will walk these same halls decades  after you. Something beautiful, purposeful, and impactful,”  Dr. Abram explained. The sound of applause began. A  smile formed on Dr. Abram’s face. He continued. “We built  this so that the young child in Kindergarten will one day  sit perched on the east side of the hall, on a break from  their calculus class, and look out to the possibilities that  await.” More applause, this time louder from the Lower  School students.  

On Monday, May 16, the New Upper School Building  officially opened for student use. Following remarks from  Dr. Abram, a blessing of the building from Duwamish  Tribal Council Chairwoman Cecile Hansen, and reflections  from Carolina Harr ’22, community members had the  opportunity to walk the halls and tour the open spaces  and classrooms. Younger students, just starting their Bush  K-12 journey, also got a glimpse into their future.  

“Although Bush has a distinct culture, it does evolve  with its people and campus,” Carolina said. “Once upon a  time, the current Lower School building was considered  new, and now all of those spaces are part of the amazing  everyday experiences for Kindergarten through Fifth  Grade. And with this new building, the spaces will  contribute to better, more collaborative learning here  in the Upper School and be an inspiring place for its  students.” 

The New Upper School Building is positioned next to  Gracemont and across from Wissner Hall, and it is the  first step in the school’s Education Master Plan (EMP) for  capital improvements on both the Seattle and Methow  campuses. Designed with an environmentally-focused  lens and serving as a dynamic learning environment for  Ninth through Twelfth Grade students, the three-story  building is the first Passive House school building in  the West and one of the first Net-Zero-Energy school  buildings in the nation. In addition, Bush is now the first  K-12 Salmon Safe school campus in the U.S. 

“The New Upper School Building is the first building that  is designed to allow the whole Upper School community  to gather together as one—unifying students and faculty  as they create and sustain a culture around our shared  purpose as a community of learners,” Dr. Abram said to  the community on that glorious spring day in May.  

• Ten modern, flexible classrooms 
• Multipurpose room with a capacity of 400  • 20,000 square feet of additional educational space 
• Lake Washington entrance provides enhanced ADA  accessibility to the Upper Campus 
• Student Life Center for Upper School students located  on the main floor 
• An extension of the Commons—the Pantry—provides  grab-and-go food options for the Upper Campus 

Beginning this summer, renovations to Gracemont and  Wissner will complete the Upper Campus projects and  Phase 1 of the EMP. Bush enters the 2022-2023 school year  poised for Phase 2 of the EMP, with the goals of creating a  more purposeful Center Campus through the main entry  to the school and the Commons, updating the Middle  School facilities, and growing the Bush endowment.  

New Building photos: Lara Swimmer ’87
The Bush School is an independent, coeducational day school located in Seattle, WA enrolling 710 students in grades K–12. The mission of The Bush School is to spark in students of diverse backgrounds and talents a passion for learning, accomplishment, and contribution to their communities.

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