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Almost hidden in a forested section off of Bull Mountain Road, the new school give a nod to nature, the environment.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tigard-Tualatin School District officials and those involved with the construction of the new Art Rutkin Elementary School received a tour of the facility on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Nestled snug in a forested area just south of the River Terrace subdivision, work on the future Art Rutkin Elementary School is continuing at a steady clip with about 80% of its distinctive interior completed.

Plans are to have the 80,000-square-foot structure up and running for student use next fall.

Set in a rural landscape, the new school is named in honor of Art Rutkin, a longtime and well-loved community educator. Rutkin, who loved nature and the outdoors, died in 2010, never knowing a school would someday be named for him.

"Originally designed as a school that would step down with the landscape, it ultimately became a multistory — three-story school — under a single roof," said Arjan Duyvestein, Bora Architecture & Interiors project architect during a recent group tour of the site. "There's about 80 feet of grade difference from the top of the site and the bottom."

(That grade difference is displayed markedly in the back of the school where extensive swaths of trees butt up to the property line and a retaining wall — a view that gives a nod to Rutkin's love for the environment — before a major drop-off occurs.)

The new school will contain 26 classrooms with another alternate space building that will have 12 classrooms.

Duyvestein said the design of the school was a departure from other buildings his firm has designed in the past and was a so-called greenfield site, meaning there was no infrastructure (water, electricity and sewer hookups on the property) when construction began.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith looks over the top floor of Art Rutkin Elementary School into the commons/cafeteria area below. 
"Everything had to be brought in," Duyvestein said. "That's relatively unusual."

Entrance to the new school, whose address is 15600 River Terrace Blvd., will be via the southern extension of the roundabout on Bull Mountain Road.

Unique aspect of the elementary school building include:

• It will be covered with green metal exterior siding designed to blend in with nature

• It's specifically designed to capture daylight, especially light coming in from the north.

• The gymnasium and commons area/cafeteria contain massive, naturally exposed laminated Douglas fir beams. The gymnasium will have outside entry doors, making it accessible to the community after-hours.

• All-wood construction throughout the building with windows everywhere. (One school official noted that there isn't a bad view anywhere in the school.)

• Naturally exposed cedar accenting the outside exteriors to classrooms or other entries into the building.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Art Rutkin Elementary School Principal Jamie Kingery, middle in orange vest, stands in a space that soon will become his office."A lot's been done to try to reduce the energy footprint of the building," Duyvestein said.

That includes installation of energy-efficient windows with expansive solar panels on the school's roof.

The building will be considered net-zero electric, meaning energy needs are balanced with the solar panels producing renewable, zero-emissions.

Electric vehicle chargers will be available in the parking lot as well.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The laminated wooden beams in the commons/cafeteria area will remain naturally exposed when construction is completed. 
The new school will include a large community garden and an artificial turf sports field, something not found at most district elementary schools, according to Principal Jamie Kingery, who said he's looking forward to the school's opening.

"Excited doesn't capture it," said Kingery, who spent 11 years as principal of Tualatin Elementary School. "School construction is just slightly ahead of where the neighborhood construction is, which is a very unique place to be for a school."PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Different colored walls let students know what floor they are on, leading to less confusion and calming anxiety about getting lost at school, officials say.

He said the school's 3,500-square-foot library will contain not only space for digital equipment (each student will have an iPad) but also 7,500 bound books.

While attendance boundaries are still being finalized, Kingery said he expects the school to open with between 250-300 students.

Tigard-Tualatin School District Superintendent Susan Rieke-Smith, said she is pleased with how the building is progressing.

"I think what I appreciate about this is the mindfulness relative to how to situate the school property … to take advantage of the trees and the natural light and things that build a sense of safety and security, particularly for elementary children," she said. "Elementary Schools are meant to be the first foray for them outside the home, so they're meant to be open and feel more like a home."

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALEZ - A forested area comes right up to the property line in the back of Art Rutkin Elementary School.

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