THE TOOLBOX – Spring 2019


Nathan Hale High School Horticulture & Urban Farm
(at Jane Adams Middle School)
11051 34th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA


The Nathan Hale Horticulture and Urban Farm is a public high school program that teaches students how to grow plans, understand global food systems, and care for the native ecosystem. Students in the program pass their skills and knowledge back to the local community through regular plant sales, hands-on projects, and dedicated community service.

Providing students with access to a commercial greenhouse and a half-acre garden, the program offers direct experience and insight into related careers, which include agricultural research, farming, public service, greenhouse/nursery management, entrepreneurship, landscape design, and environmental science.


After successfully completing a set of outdoor gathering structures in 2018, the Neighborhood Design/Build Studio was invited back to Nathan Hale for another project on their site. Working in collaboration with students, teachers, administrators, and the Friends of Nathan Hale Horticulture & Urban Farm Foundation, the Spring 2019 studio group was hired to design and construct a series of storage structures to replace the existing unit on an underdeveloped corner of the site. The program described a need for more efficient and accessible tool storage solutions that provide ample daylight and ventilation. The prompt also asked for a flexible covered workspace that could function as a teaching area, as well as registration and check out for plant sales and other events.


After several rounds of collaborative design, the students agreed to move forward with an integrated series of stick-framed structures to replace the existing storage unit on the northeast corner of the site. The proposed scheme consists of a flexible covered work area flanked by two storage sheds. The articulated roof provides ample daylight and ventilation along with a continuous trellis that allows for hanging plants and produces dappled light. Together, these structures support the everyday work of the garden and provide much-needed support for the program’s yearly fundraising efforts. The scheme was enthusiastically received by the committee, and given the approval to proceed with construction.


With the scheme thoroughly detailed and the materials purchased, the team began by building a large jig to frame the standard wall panels at their studio space on campus. At the same time, unit beams that would connect the panels to concrete foundations were constructed and positioned outside, allowing the students to test the structure’s resilience at full scale. Framed using nominal douglas fir and cedar lumber, the structures were built as a series of panels that would support the articulated shed and gabled roof forms. Building the four structures as a series of modular panels allowed them to be easily disassembled and cataloged for transportation and installation on site.

Upon transportation to Nathan Hale High School, the wall panels and roofs were organized in preparation for their reassembly. The now cleared corner site was marked and reshaped in preparation for the pouring of concrete footings. With the concrete foundations in place, the unit beams were attached and the panel walls raised to support the roof structures overhead.

Securely anchored into its new home facing the Garden Dugout and the Greenhouse, the Toolbox provides students and volunteers at the Nathan Hale Horticulture and Urban Farm with an accessible set of storage and gathering spaces that provide shade and protection from the elements and reinforces the program’s position on craft and sustainability.