Rainier Beach High School

Each month, the Washington Chapter of Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) hosts a tour of a learning space, followed by a dinner and a special-topic discussion. While this is a great opportunity to connect and learn, the A4LE board was looking for ideas to further unite with and give back to the local K12 community. As members of the board began exploring schools that needed a little outside support, Rainier Beach High School jumped to the top of their list as a school in need of improvement to foster student pride. With a diverse student population, Rainier Beach High School wanted to provide students with a welcoming environment that could enable them to do their best learning.

The A4LE Day of Service took place on March 31, 2018. There were three areas of focus at the school: the main entryway, the courtyard and the entrance to the gymnasium. The school prides itself on its student diversity, international baccalaureate programs, career tech programs, arts and athletics. Two students, Naj and Gian, stood out as vocal advocates for their school and helped to guide the areas of focus. They also were student advocates who spread the word about the project to their student body and community.

The entryway to the school was in need of a facelift. Aged wooden retaining walls were replaced with decorative concrete blocks, new plants, mulch and walkway gravel—the small but mighty touches that make the entryway a welcoming focal point for students, teachers and families into the school. The finishing touch included four Viking-blue (the school’s color) benches for students to congregate on before and after school hours.

The courtyard was a place where gardens once thrived, but due to changing budget priorities, the area became a place that reminded staff and students of its former glory. On the day of service, eight raised garden beds were removed shovel-full by shovel-full, permanent garden beds were pruned and weeded, the school’s Vikings logo was artfully painted on the cement and picnic tables and occasional seats were placed throughout. What was previously an overgrown eyesore without functional use is now a central, biophilic hub for students to congregate for study sessions or lunch, together.

Previously a place to pass through, the gymnasium entryway is now a place where students want to spend time. Matt Chambers, Shaw Contract account manager and A4LE board member, worked in partnership with Bassetti Architects to connect the entryway flooring to the mission of better representing Rainier Beach’s student diversity and athleticism in the physical space. The flooring works to draw people into the space through a subtle gradation and bright blue and orange accents to represent the Viking team colors. Previously this space was void of furniture – now it is complete with a seating area nestled between the trophy case and gymnasium doors to provide a place for students to wait for class to begin or find a friend before a basketball game.


Seattle, Washington, USA

Design Firm

Bassetti Architects


  • K-12
  • Collection

    Mindful Play
    Virtual Spaces
    Color At Work

    Products Used

    inspire lvt
    hype tile
    saturate tile

    Case Study