Dena‘ina Elementary School

Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Palmer, Alaska

Project Info
Dena‘ina Elementary School
Palmer, Alaska

Completion Date: 2016
Size: 44,000 SF

Situated on a 10-acre site in the spectacular rolling and wooded hills in Palmer, Alaska, the 400-student Dena‘ina Elementary School solves pressing overcrowding issues at surrounding schools. The 44,000 square foot building is located in the center of the site with its main east-facing entry becoming a light-filled beacon to students who will arrive at school most often before the sun peeks over the horizon. This lack of daylight during the school year became a major driver for the form and organization of the building. The planning aligns classrooms facing a preferred southern view and maximum daylight while placing shared functions such as the gym and mechanical spaces to the north. The stair stepping nature of the classrooms creates a “wedge” of internal multifunction space that is used as break-out space for small group collaborative work, simultaneous gatherings of several classes, and a place for all-school celebrations. Designed with best practices in mind, this elementary school also has the potential for a planned expansion to the west that would add approximately 100 additional students. This project was designed in association with Bettisworth North Architects and Planners.