A New Home for the “Thunder Family”

Mountain View High School


The design for Mountain View High School’s new 275,000 SF building prioritizes visibility, safety, and student empowerment. To reflect the school’s well-established culture of collaboration and the open-door policy between students and teachers, a “circuit” was introduced around a central commons and courtyard, creating a direct and easily visible pathway to services or programs across the school. 

To serve and consider all student needs, the building includes a rich variety of spatial typologies and environments. The intent is to create learning options that invite and empower students to participate and collaborate with one another, and extend this across all spaces.

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Key Stats


Evergreen Public Schools


Vancouver, WA

Total Square Footage

275,000 SF



Student Capacity


Completion Date



In 2018, the community rallied their support for a voter-approved bond measure that would include funds for Mountain View’s new building. The team at LSW was thrilled about the opportunity to reimagine a modern home for the school and design a space that supports the school’s well-established community atmosphere and culture. 

The original layout for Mountain View High School is a throwback to the open, multi-building campuses that were popular in the seventies. As technology, learning modalities, and teaching methods have evolved, the need for an updated building that supports tomorrow’s generation of learners was increasingly apparent.

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LSW harnessed the insight of community, staff and students, studied how their needs continuously change over time, and approached this familiar project with a sense of purpose and admiration for the school’s culture. 

For a school of its size and scope, its unifying theme is a sense of closeness and camaraderie that defines the daily student/teacher experience. From the onset, the team at LSW worked closely with staff, students and community representatives to harness their insight in hopes of understanding what makes Mountain View a unique place to learn. During this process, an existing strong cultural theme emerged: “Thunder Family.” 

This term captures the way students and staff at Mountain View interact with and treat one another and how the community rallies behind the school. It speaks to the open door policy that teachers maintain for students and describes the school’s atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion. 

It’s no surprise that “Thunder Family” became a strong reference point for the design. By centralizing the classes, services, and environments around a common loop or circuit, the intention was to user-flow that supports the way teachers and staff already interacted. This provides access points throughout the loop and opportunities to comfortably collaborate with others. 

Visual transparency and vertical connection were also important factors in facilitating the transition from a one-story to a three-story building. A big part of the Thunder Family experience is connecting with peers and staff, which often happens when moving between classrooms and spaces. Our goal was to design a school that feels open, easily navigable, and secure.

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"Mountain View High School is not just the building, the halls, or sports fields. It is the warm environment, the culture, and the meaningful interactions that bring students, families, and teachers together every day. LSW understands this and has done an amazing job of translating the Mountain View experience into the school’s design. These are the qualities that have made them a true and valued partner to Evergreen Public Schools for decades."

Sue Steinbrenner

Executive Facilities Director, Evergreen Public Schools