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West Valley School

Before renovation and addition to the K-8 West Valley School could commence, a $7 million bond needed passage, for which Cushing Terrell helped rally community support through a comprehensive education planning effort.

Budget adherence and revision dominated team meetings, leading to meticulous understanding of every dollar’s allocation; yet high performance and inspired design were never sacrificed. The designers brought fun but affordable and implementable ideas to the table, aiding the team in reaching quick, decisive conclusions. One insightful alternative to imported fill was stepping the floor structure and architecture to fit the existing site — a clever tactic that alone saved over $500,000. In fact, so much money remained in the budget that after every priority “need” had been met, additional “wants” were addressed.

The addition included a new entry commons, second practice gym, library, music room, kitchen, and 15 additional classrooms. With classroom-width hallways bisecting the learning spaces, the new rooms are highly convertible: sliding and rolling overhead doors, made of laminated glass and seals to maintain acoustics, perform like walls when they’re closed, but open to allow for unprecedented utilization of rooms and tiered thoroughfares as co-teaching space, lunchroom, or indoor amphitheater. Moreover, selected furniture is light and on wheels, easily reassembled into individual, small group, or large group configurations. Distinctly bright and unique colors adorn classroom walls and help with wayfinding.

Within a facility that had been grown piecemeal for 50 years, the Cushing Terrell team was able to deliver a durable, interesting, interactive, and flexible 21st century-ready school that provided all spatial needs promised to the voters in response to their population growth.

Kalispell, MT