Faced with the urgent need to replace their abandoned cafeteria building, the Marysville School District took the opportunity to delve into what the new facility could be to support the educational development of the 21st-century student. They came to the realization that instead of a cafeteria, they were looking for a flexibly programmed space that could be a backdrop for teaching and learning at any scale. They were looking for a Commons.
The new facility presented an opportunity to move beyond the traditional cafeteria model and extend operations past two daily lunch periods to create a host for a variety of activities during the other 22 hours of the day. Not only can this space support the educational and social needs of the students, but it can support the community by providing a much-needed setting for job fairs, banquets, and seminars. Working in partnership with the design team and stakeholders representing all aspects of their diverse community, the district developed a program that fulfilled all these needs and gave the high school a new nucleus of activity.
Strategically placed close to buildings that will remain in the event of a future replacement, its position affords physical connections to the existing campus and visual connections to the fields, stadium, and to Mt. Pilchuck and the surrounding mountain range. Now at the front of the campus, the new location provides a more direct connection to the community from the main road.
After almost 3 years of the students being displaced from their previous student hub, the need to establish a new campus heart and forge connections within the student body was vital. The new commons provides a safe space to gather and socialize, as well as eat, study, and learn. Since occupancy, the impact on MPHS has been overwhelmingly positive. The commons has become more than just a destination, but a place encouraging and celebrating student empowerment. As a popular community venue with events booked multiple nights a week, the commons has become the social center of campus.