Students walking past an empty collaboration room with a closed single leaf sliding door.

Having experienced explosive growth, the Northshore School District, located in Bothell, Washington, needed to expand to include a new North Creek High School (NCHS) on a 61-acre site. The district partnered with Dykeman, Inc. to turn their vision of a flexible, innovative learning center for 1,600 students into a reality.

Specifically, the district’s design goals centered on a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) focus, with “the integration of disciplines (…) occur(ing) through the use of project-based and problem-based learning,” explains the NCHS Design and Vision Video.

Dykeman’s solution included eight “collaboration cubes” to foster the district’s STEM success. Each of these cubes are located in the expanded core that runs down the center of two academic buildings. In these synergistic spaces, students can work together in small groups, para-educators can work one-on-one with students, or teachers can meet by department.

The design team at Dykeman specified AD Systems single leaf sliding doors for each of the cubes to open up the small hallway rooms for team learning. Two cubes are located on each floor, and the cubes’ interior sliding doors easily glide aside to visually enlarge the space. By expanding beyond the four walls of the room, the doors enhance the free-flowing nature of the cubes. As Trish Sherman, NCHS Project Manager at Dykeman summed up: “The sliding doors were a key component in bringing the collaborative concept to life.”

AD Systems single leaf sliding doors are also utilized in four teacher planning rooms. The sliding capability allows “for an open-door policy, where students feel comfortable approaching,” said Michael Stevens, NCHS Project Architect at Dykeman. “The result is a more open, approachable space.”

Approachable design further evokes a sense of camaraderie for educators using the planning rooms. “I love that there’s a teacher planning room on every floor, which is also conducive to teachers communicating more and working together, sharing their ideas even if perhaps they don’t work in the same department,” observed Natalie Pullen, Special Education Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA).

What’s more, sliding doors save space, directly correlating with NCHS’ collaborative culture. By eliminating a door’s swing path, there is more room for students and teachers to spread out in a comfortable setting. “Without extra swing, you can do a lot more in a small space. This was one of the key reasons for the barn sliding doors,” Stevens said.

The sliding doors come in wood stile with glass infill panels for daylighting purposes. The aesthetic functions as an extension of the classrooms, all of which feature a full glass wall. The glazing captures the ample natural light that filters through the high school, increasing energy efficiency, while paving the way for working together. Studies show that the presence of daylight has a positive impact on well-being, and attention to biophilic features can indeed improve group learning.

It’s also worth noting that the sliding doors enable controlled environments. Teachers and counselors can eliminate distractions by sliding doors closed. With a soft-closing dampening system, acoustic jamb gaskets and drop-down bottom seal features, it’s possible to seal all four sides of a sliding door for optimum privacy. These features enable sliding doors to be on par with swing doors in their Sound Transmission Class (STC), providing Noise Isolation Class (NIC) values up to 39. Both Sherman and Stevens touched on sound attenuation as an important component of the project, especially with parent-teacher conferences and student-counselor meetings.

According to Sherman and Stevens, the cubes are used all the time. While staff was initially hesitant to have their private offices reallocated for this new collaborative concept, the school has come to fully embrace the culture of cooperation reflected in 12 eye-catching sliding doors.

Learn more about how AD Systems’ lines of high-performance interior sliding doors can fit a variety of applications, from clinic exam rooms and free-standing Emergency Rooms, to private office spaces and corporate conference rooms. Contact our technical team at (425) 740-6011 or by email at


AD Systems prides itself on delivering sliding door solutions that don’t compromise on design or performance.


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