Against the century-old church next door, the modest, modern building that houses the science lab of Seattle’s private Bertschi School could seem out of place. Its metal roof glints in the daylight, a surrounding garden of native grasses rustles in the breeze, and in-ground windows offer a view of the water that flows beneath. Jason F. McLennan remembers when the owners cut the ribbon on this 1,400-square-foot addition.
Then, he recalls, the children started chanting. Not “Bertschi!” but “Liv-ing build-ing! Liv-ing build-ing!” Those elementary-schoolers knew what stood before them—a structure built to have minimal environmental impact, to exist in an almost symbiotic relationship with its surroundings, operating more like an ecosystem, less like a consumer.