Hawthorne STEAM Play Space Community Design Project

The Hawthorne Community is coming together to re-imagine the school’s outdoor space during the 2017-2018 school year. We believe this space can be more than a recess playground.

It is a community gathering place, a place to connect with the outdoors, and a place for open-ended learning. More importantly, the process of envisioning, designing, and building a playground is more than a construction project. It is an opportunity to bring a school’s community together, to generate a sense of ownership, and create a rich platform for student learning and legacy. 


Friends of Hawthorne PTA has partnered with the Pomegranate Center to lead our community through the design process — to distill our collective ideas into a shared vision, and create a master plan for the Hawthorne outdoor space.

This process will also serve as a platform to expand Hawthorne’s STEAM learning mission with project-based learning activities for student and families throughout the design and construction process.

This project is generously funded by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Community Partnership Fund, with support from Friends of Hawthorne PTA.

The master plan for the new playspace is nearly complete!

The design team has been refining the design with feedback from the community meetings, staff, and the school district. Click on the image below to see the latest design, or if you have a chance to walk around the playground, you can see the design striped onto the actual space! In the coming weeks we'll be finalizing the design and determining what to include in the first construction phase tentatively scheduled for spring 2019. The design team will be working in May and June to finalize the design and create the construction documents.

It is not too late to provide additional feedback though. Did we miss anything in the design? What would you prioritize most in the 1st construction phase.

To provide feedback, use this Playground Feedback Form.

We Want Your Feedback on the 3 Playground Design Options

Our design team created 3 site master plan options based on the community feedback from the First Community Design Meeting and their work with the students. We reviewed and discussed these 3 options at the Second Community Design Meeting, but it is not too late to provide additional feedback. We want to hear what aspect you like best from each option and how each could be improved. Please provide your feedback by April 8 so that the designers can take the best aspects of the 3 designs and create a final site master plan to present back to the community on April 26.

To provide feedback, use this Playground Feedback Form.


Second Community Design Meeting Recap

Over 170 students, parents, and neighbors joined us for the March 29th meeting. The students presented their amazing design work and hand-built models, and the designers reviewed their work incorporating the community and student's feedback into 3 design options for the site.

The presentation meeting is available here:  Community Meeting #2 Presentation

First Community Design Meeting Recap

Turnout was great at the first of three community meetings we're holding to gather ideas for our new playground. More than 140 showed up!

Want more info? The presentation from the meeting is available to view here:
Community Meeting #1 Presentation


STEAM Design led by students

 Pop Up Playpod Event

Pop Up Playpod Event

Hawthorne is a Creative Approach School that provides students with Project Based Learning opportunities aligned to academic standards through our STEAM Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). This project will provide a tremendous platform for STEAM learning opportunity for the Hawthorne students. Students have the opportunity to take a direct role in the process working with professionals. Students will interact with design professionals during in-classroom and after-school project-based activities.

Activities with students and community members where lead by Jason Medieros (spectabolis@yahoo.com) throughout the months of January and February 2018. These activities included a Pop Up Playpod with Leon Smith.

Project timeline

  • Three Community Design Meetings
    • Tuesday Jan 30, 6:00-8:00pm @ Hawthorne — 1st Community Design Meeting (Presentation Slides)
    • Thursday, March 29, 6:00-8:00pm @ Hawthorne — 2nd Community Meeting reviewing 3 design options (Presentation Slides).
    • Thursday, April 26, 6:00-8:00pm @ Hawthorne — 3rd Community Design Meeting (coordinated with Hawthorne Family Health Night)
  • Construction Documents of the final design will be completed by end of June 2018
  • Grant requests for Phase 1 construction funding completed by end of June 2018
  • Construction of Phase 1 2018-2019 (exact schedule will depend on many factors)

Project Team

The Pomegranate Center has assembled a robust team that we are confident will not only help us create an amazing space, but also lead us in a design process that will strengthen our community and be rich with learning opportunities for our students. The team includes Pomegranate Center, Outdoor Classroom DesignEarthplay Design, and Herrera Environmental Consultants.

For more details on the project team, and see similar projects they have worked on, please read their Statement of Qualification.

City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Community Partnership Fund

The Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) program was created to provide matching dollars for neighborhood improvement, organizing, or projects that are developed and implemented by community members. Core to the fund is the community match, which requires awardees to match their award with contributions from the community (volunteer time, donated materials, donated professional services or cash).

The City of Seattle granted $55,800 to Friends of Hawthorne PTA in 2017 to lead an extensive community engagement process to design a more welcoming and engaging exploration and play-space at Hawthorne Elementary School. We have committed to matching this grant with 1,400 hours of our time, mostly through the three community meetings.



less pavement
more shade
better neighborhood access
outdoor learning
rain garden
quiet spaces



 Typical Winter morning at the playground.

Typical Winter morning at the playground.

 Current West Side of Hawthorne Playground along 39th Ave S = No access

Current West Side of Hawthorne Playground along 39th Ave S = No access