PROJECT—Education, On the Boards

Elk Grove Unified School District – James Rutter Middle School New Science Center

Client: Elk Grove Unified School District

Size: 14,451 sq. ft.

Completion: Pending April 2020

Delivery Method: Pending

Location: Sacramento, CA

Service: Pre-Design, Design, Construction Documents, BIM

Principal-in-Charge: Brian Maytum

Project Coordinator: Elizabeth Hawks-McBride

Interior Designer: Yesenia Watkins

Civil Engineer: Barrish Pelham Associates

Mechanical Engineer: Weston & Associates

Electrical Engineer: EDGE

Landscape: MTW Group


The James Rutter Science Center consists of eight science labs and a large central collaboration space serving state-of-the art science facilities for 6th-8th grade students. To keep project costs down, a standardized design was established among all labs that utilizes flexible furniture and workstations in response to changing program and curriculum needs. Abundant daylighting is provided through large exterior storefront windows and the traditional abundance of casework gives way to tackable and marker wall surfaces for collaborative learning and the display of student work. The central collaboration space services the teacher’s primary work area and contains a fume hood, gas and other utilities for small group demonstrations, keeping these more dangerous utilities and materials out of the labs. The collaboration space is large enough not only for the eight science teachers, but is sized for large group and campus-wide teacher trainings.

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Provide new state-of-the-art science labs to replace outdated science classrooms that do not meet current curriculum, space and safety standards.


Design a new stand-alone science building for an under-served student population at one of the school district’s most socioeconomically challenged middle schools with a history of vandalism.


The James Rutter Science Center provides a safe and secure free-standing building in a location on the campus that facilitates visibility by school staff and administrators while fostering a sense of inclusiveness. The building is located directly adjacent to the main academic core of classrooms on one side and the basketball courts and athletic playing fields on the other. The new science center is linked to the existing campus with an interactive science courtyard, designed as a place for gathering, exhibits and experimentation. Each lab opens to its own outdoor learning court with fixed seating and area to roll out movable furniture for small group collaboration. Generous roof overhangs create shade and weather protection directly outside the labs and links the building to the central science courtyard. Durable materials and a standard lab design create efficiency and promote sustainability and reduced operating costs.