Mary Lyon Elementary School Replacement

News & updates

Mary Lyon library, from virtual reality to reality

Mary Lyon architect, the DOWA-IBI Group, recently gave school staff the chance to take a look at the inside of their new three-story library using virtual reality goggles.

The peek inside allowed the staff to experience the details of the design, like finishes, furniture and equipment. The goal is to perfect the space for every student, teacher and community member, creating something that is both well-used and beloved.

For a "virtually real" glimpse of the new school, click on the links below.
Computer viewing: Use your mouse to click and drag in either direction to get a 360-degree view of the spaces (to ensure performance, clear your web browser’s cache before clicking on the link or try a different browser).
Phone or tablet viewing: Move your device up and down and turn around to get the full view.

Library 1st floor entrance -

Library 1st floor tidal pool -

Library 2nd floor nest -

Library 2nd floor near elevator -

Library 3rd floor floating view -

Concrete progress at Mary Lyon

Despite the cold and rain, crews are making a lot of progress on the new Mary Lyon, recently completing most below-grade concrete footings and foundations.

Here’s what’s next:

  • Crews will soon install electrical and plumbing, and pour the concrete floor slab in the classrooms, library and administrative area. Steel columns and frames will go up in early January, with second-floor framing following soon after.

  • The kitchen, music room/stage area, and the cafeteria/gym will get their concrete floors poured in early January. Steel columns and frames in those areas will start to go up in mid-January.  

Entryway art update

Local artist Jennifer Weddermann continues her work on designing and fabricating a public art piece for the new school’s entryway. A model of the art was displayed in the McKinley lobby during parent-teacher conference week. Much like the school, the art piece will be influenced by Puget Sound, with an emphasis on water, land and sky imagery.

Want the latest Mary Lyon construction news?

Sign up for e-newsletter updates to get the latest construction news and photos for Mary Lyon Elementary School delivered straight to your inbox.
About the project

Lyon Elementary School currently has a capacity of 450 students that includes preschool through fifth grade. The existing facility was originally constructed in 1925 with 41,017 square feet on just under 3 acres. Several additions were made between 1948 and 2003.

The new replacement project will:

  • Construct a new building expected to sustain a lifespan of 50 years.
  •  Provide approximately 56,000 square feet of innovative learning spaces for students.
  • Allow students to attend school in a different location during construction.

The project’s design phase began in fall 2015 and goes through spring 2017. Construction is expected to begin June 2017 with students and staff occupying the new school building by fall 2018.

Square footage: 56,625
Student capacity: 450
Projected budget: $29 million
Design: August 2015 - April 2017
Construction: July 2017 - October 2018
Opening: Fall/ winter of the 2018-19 school year
Architect: DOWA-IBI Group
Contractor: Pease & Sons


Pease & Sons of Pierce County chosen to build new Mary Lyon 

On June 1, the Tacoma School Board awarded the bid to build the new Mary Lyon Elementary School to Pease & Sons, a Tacoma area contractor with more than 50 years of construction experience. Pease & Sons submitted the lowest bid for the project with a bid of $23.6 million. Construction is anticipated to reach substantial completion in October 2018.

Mary Lyon students and staff will attend school at the district's former McKinley Elementary School site during construction. The new building will be 56,000 square feet with capacity for 450 students and feature a Puget Sound theme. The existing school was originally built in 1924 with 41,017 square feet on just under 3 acres. The district built additions between 1948 and 2003.

Bus routes to McKinley site set for 2017-18

Mary Lyon Elementary students will attend classes at the district's former McKinley Elementary site, 3702 E. McKinley Ave., during the 2017-18 school year. Students living in the Mary Lyon attendance area will be provided bus service to the transition site during construction. Schedules will be posted on the Transportation website in August.

Mary Lyon groundbreaking, farewell celebrations

Say farewell to the old hallways and celebrate the start of the Mary Lyon Elementary School Replacement Project at one of two events. A great opportunity to share memories and even leave your autograph on the gym floor, which will become part of the foundation for the new building. The architects at DOWA-IBI Group will be available to answer questions about the new design.

Groundbreaking celebration
Thursday, June 15, 4:30-6 p.m.
A brief ceremony followed by music and memories. Performances by student singers, Pacific Islander Dancers and local celebrity singer Vicci Martinez.

Last look farewell tours
Saturday, June 17, 10 a.m.-Noon
Grab a donut and wander the halls one last time!

Call to artists: Mary Lyon Entry Plaza Art Installation (CLOSED)

Tacoma Public Schools is seeking an artist or artist team to create a permanent piece of artwork for the Mary Lyon Elementary School replacement project. This piece of work would be located on the entry plaza area (corner of E. 46th and A Street) and interact with the downspouts which move rainwater from the main roofline into the stormwater system below.

Artists are invited to submit qualifications for consideration. The artist selection committee will review qualifications on June 20 and interview semi-finalists for interviews June 29. After interviews, 2-3 finalists will be invited to prepare preliminary design concepts ($500 stipend) to present to the committee for final consideration in September. Work must be completed by Fall 2018; all dates are subject to change.

Budget: $30,000, all inclusive (artist fees, materials, equipment, insurance, installation, travel, taxes, engineering, etc.)
Deadline: June 19, 2017, Noon
Link to technical specifications

For more information, contact Facilities Communication Coordinator Alicia Lawver at or 253-571-3328.

Mary Lyon Elementary School Replacement Project - BIDS ARE CLOSED

Construction estimate: $19 million
Bid ads: March 23 and 30, 2017
Walk through: April 6, 2017, 1 p.m.
Bid opening date: May 11, 2017 (extended date)

About our Inclusion Plan requirement
Contractors bidding on packages greater than $300,000 are required to provide and implement an outreach plan, referred to as an Inclusion Plan, for including small business enterprises (SBEs) as well as minority- and women-owned outreach enterprises (DBEs). This is part of the district's commitment to supporting local businesses and inclusivity while obtaining the best value for the public.

The outreach plan should describe the specific activities the Contractor will undertake in its efforts to meet the aspirational goals for utilization of state-certified MWBE constractors. Details about plan and reporting requirements are outlined in the bid documents.

Businesses that qualify for local and MWBE Inclusion Plan goals
Note: Contractors are expected to confirm certification before reporting MWBE numbers

Also, the Washington State Office of Minority & Women Owned Business Enterprises maintains a directory of MWBE Certified firms on their website. Contractors and designers are encouraged to use this list when selecting sub-consultants and vendors.

Environmental review

We are pleased to report that progress is being made on the design of the new Mary Lyon Elementary School to replace the existing facility. We have entered into the environmental review process and the responsible official has issued a Determination of Non-Significance for this project, noting that this proposal will not have significant adverse impact on the environment. 

The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process is a state requirement intended to ensure state and local agencies consider the likely environmental consequences of a proposed project before the project begins. The City of Tacoma also requires submittal of SEPA materials as part of the building and site development permit review. 

The below documents are available for public and agency review for the Mary Lyon Elementary School Replacement project:

If you wish to submit comments on the project, please email or send written comments to Robert Sawatzky, Director of Planning and Construction, 3223 S. Union Ave., Tacoma, WA 98409.

About the design process

On December 1, 2015, DOWA-IBI Group Architects conducted a design workshop with select students at Mary Lyon Elementary School. The workshop included a learning space activity and a new school design presentation. 

 During the learning space activity, students were split into groups representing a type of learning space and were asked to choose images​ that best illustrate their space. Students cut out images and organized them on a presentation board expressing why their images best represented their learning space. 


View the boards.


Students were asked to take what they learned about types of learning spaces and begin to design a new school for Mary Lyon. Students were able to draw floor plans and use images to demonstrate how their new school incorporates each space.


View the new school presentations.

Schematic design phase complete

​The schematic design is now complete for the Mary Lyon replacement project. During this phase Mary Lyon staff, community members, and district administrative staff - led by DOWA - IBI Group Architects - worked together to design the layout for the new school. The schematic design report documents the creative process and illustrates the amount of effort and collaboration that goes into re-designing a school.

Read the full schematic design report.