top of page

Building as A Teaching Tool

A flexible teaching tool for STEAM-based learning


The prestigious K-8 Towns Boys School needed to transform its outdated 1960s building into a 21st-century inquiry-based learning environment. However, due to the prohibitive cost of acquiring new land in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights area, the transformation would need to occur within the existing urban footprint.


To inform the design of a new space and encourage its role in acting as a third teacher, MKThink conducted a facilities assessment evaluating the user patterns, curriculum, and scheduling. MKThink considered every option to create new educational space, from opportunities in the physical site, scheduling, and right-sizing classroom spaces to creating new, more flexible spatial typologies to accommodate a dynamic 21st-century curriculum.


MKThink expanded the school below ground, increasing the facility’s net usable area by 42% without the costly acquisition of new land. This approach avoided extensive capital expenditures. MKThink renovated 31% of the existing facility to enhance the STEAM curriculum, facilitate inquiry-based learning, and cultivate a sense of community.

In 2018, MKThink designed a state-of-the-art multi-purpose theater, events, and athletic zone to occupy the new space captured through excavation. The ability to flex between classroom uses allowed the school to offer a new competitive performing arts program at a fraction of the cost of providing space for independent services.


Town School for Boys



San Francisco, CA


64,000 SF


K-12 Education


bottom of page