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Building as A Teaching Tool

A flexible teaching tool for STEAM-based learning


This prestigious K-8 boys school needed to transform its outdated 1960’s building into a 21st century inquiry-based learning environment. But, because of the prohibitive cost to acquire new land in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights area, the transformation would need to occur within the existing urban footprint.


MKThink conducted a facilities assessment that evaluated user patterns, curriculum, and scheduling to inform the design of spaces that act as a third teacher. MKThink considered every opportunity for the creation of new educational space, from physical site opportunities, to scheduling and right-sizing classroom spaces, to the creation of new, more flexible spatial typologies to accommodate a dynamic 21st-century curriculum.


MKThink was able to expand 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 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 space to occupy the space that had been captured through excavation. The ability to flex between uses allowed the school to offer a new competitive performing arts program at a fraction of the cost of providing the uses independent from one another.


Town School for Boys



San Francisco, CA


64,000 SF


K-12 Education


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