After tech evaluation, looks like Highline High’s front façade cannot be saved


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Sadly, the front façade of Highline High School will not be salvaged when the school is rebuilt.

Artist rendering shows a somewhat vague new design which will likely be changed.

Highline Public Schools on Monday (Sept. 25) announced that – after a full evaluation – the technical team has concluded that the front façade/north wall of Highline High School is “not stable enough to be safely shored up. An attempt to reinforce would be costly, and it would still be at risk of failing – even with reinforcement.”

Looks like the plan to preserve the entire front of the school – built in 1924 – will not be salvageable. This was decided on by the technical team, which includes the architect, structural engineer, cost consultants, project manager, and Highline capital facilities staff.

When the bond was passed in 2016, the plan called for preserving as much of the school’s façade as structurally and financially feasible, as recommended by the citizen-led Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC).

The Highline School Board and staff say they have always intended to honor that recommendation.

“However, we remain committed to honoring the historic look of HHS,” the district said in a statement. “We have selected Bassetti Architects for this project because of their experience in rebuilding historic schools. The project team will work with Bassetti to honor Highline’s history and to incorporate salvaged materials into the new school.”

The district added that the stability of the north wall and the capability of the soil to support it were not known at the time of bond passage.

“The safety of our students and staff and the stewardship of tax dollars are our top priorities,” the district said. “This is our commitment to our community.”

NOTE: More info on this will likely be shared at the ‘Ask the Architect Community Meeting,’ which will be held in the Highline High School cafeteria on Thursday, Oct. 19, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. (225 South 152nd Street).

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Comments

16 Responses to “After tech evaluation, looks like Highline High’s front façade cannot be saved”
  1. john davis says:

    We had a big earth quake when I was in school there (class of 65) and it didn’t fall down. It is one of our most historic buildings left. Oh yes, just do away with our history. It will cost more to tear down and rebuild but you don’t want to address that. This is our history, think about that.

    Rate: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 20

    • Kendra says:

      Due to the fact that I went to this school not that long ago, I feel the need to update you on how badly this school is actually doing structurally wise and hygenically before I continue this is in no way to offend you.
      This school has many parts of the building that is chipping off and there are plenty of spots all around campus that has major damage to the structure and could possibly lead to injury if not resolved. There is major pipe and ceiling leaks all around campus also that teachers have to use their own pots and pans from their own home to collect the falling water from the ceiling. Now, I should also mention that there’s a major rat issue and I have pictures to prove it. The building is covered in graffiti and I’m not talking about the mural in the basement I’m talking bathrooms, classroom, the office and cafeteria. The building doesn’t hold in any heat so when winter comes you seriously have to bundle up and kiss even brought blankets to school due to classes being so cold, the windows in most of the classrooms do not open so during summer time teachers bring in their own water bottles, fans, and even warning children to not where any tank tops under sweatshirts due to the warmth these classrooms gain. I think it’s great that they’re finally rebuilding the school. No offense to you saying any of this but it was desperately needed for years now.

      Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • Having just seen the last grandchild graduate from Highline, I have been privy to many comments on the condition of the building…see above comments from Kendra. So although disappointed I am not surprised. Hopefully they will save and incorporate into the new building the stained glass Pirate over the main entrance and the arch around that door. Bassetti is pretty good about doing that kind of thing on school rebuilds. And they plan to reuse whatever they can of the brick veneer on the front. After 4 generations in attendance from my family, and 70 plus years of seeing the school from the kitchen window, it will be a change, but for the student’s sake a necessary one.

        Rate: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Banker Bob says:

    I’m part of the graduating class of 94. I’m fine with letting it go. It’s historical but not very attractive. I’m looking forward to a clean, efficient, and modern school for our future.

    Rate: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 14

  3. Travis says:

    Perhaps they can reconstruct the old facade with more modern materials. It would a shame to turn that beautiful school into a bland structure that looks like every other school.

    Rate: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  4. Alexandra Shepiro says:

    Class of 93 here. Strange, I’ve had this weird feeling about something happening to the school for a while now. Living in California, I had no idea till yesterday.

    Sad to see part of it go.

    Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  5. Bobd333 says:

    Please check out Stewart Middle School in Tacoma. They seriously renovated that bldg. from inside out and kept it looking just like its beautiful beginning. Sure its a Middle school but its huge on the outside. Take a look.. Doesn’t that remind you of Highline? Drive by it quite often so just wanted to show you all.

    https://www.tacomaschools.org/construction/Pages/Stewart-Middle-School.aspx

    Rate: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  6. Great says:

    Its ok John. Maybe they’ll sell some of the facade and you can take a piece of history home. 🙂

    Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    • I graduated in 1960, as did my twin brother. 4 other siblings graduated later, my husband & his sister. 2 of our next generation did, as well. When we heard that the school was to be torn down in the late 60’s, I was sad, then learned it was able to be shored up after all & was glad. Moving to another WA city by then, I discovered the local high schoo, l which had the very same shape/style as Highline, was torn down & a new modern one was built some blocks away. I heard lots of complaints, which made me thankful Highline was saved. My
      2nd husband was one of the complainers. He’d played football before graduating. My point of this story is that when they tore down the school, graduates were allowed to “claim” one brick, so many took advantage of that. With the comments I’ve read here, it does seem that safety due to age/earthquakes is good reason to tear it down & move on. Farewell, good friend, you served us well. Rest in peace.

      Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. Audrey says:

    I would say that the district is being good stewards of our money. How is it going to cost to savebthe front? Millions? Put that into the classroom!

    Rate: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  8. Joshua Davis says:

    Part of the district’s promise to the constituency when they were passing their enormous bond package was that they would attempt to preserve the facade HHS. I think it is becoming clear that they had no intention if keeping that promise. What other promises are they going to break? Our students deserve a well-run, efficient, and professional education. Sadly, most students are let down, not by the teachers, but by the administration that seems more interested in experimentation than education.

    Rate: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

    • Captain obvious says:

      I think it’s unfortunate that it can’t be saved. But would you want walking under or around it if it where to fall or fail in parts.

      The pile of law suits from parents alone would tear the district ironically to a pile of dust. Leaving the rest of the students unable to get a chance at a education.

      Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  9. Kathleen Tannehill Bailey says:

    That’s a shame. Three generations of my family have looked at that facade before walking through those doors to become a Highline Pirate.
    I hope they recognize the historical significance of and the sense of pride that Highline alumni have in those bricks and mortar and preserve it. Maybe part of it could be placed at Lake Burien Park to stand beside the archway of Lake Burien Elementary School.

    Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  10. Kelly says:

    I’m sad it can’t be saved, but I also understand. Class 2004, we had the 2001 earthquake and there were questions of whether or not the school was stable enough to use then. Time is not kind to stonework buildings, especially those built on the unstable ground we live on.

    Hopefully they will be able to save the arch, like how they did with Lake Burien Park and make something out of that. However after being able to SEE first hand how much the floors shifted after that quake, I totally understand.

    Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  11. Scott says:

    1971 graduate. Both kids graduated froim HHS. While it is sad that it can’t be saved. Sometimes you just have to let go and move on.

    Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  12. Susan West says:

    Hello Everyone, a brand new school is being built regardless of whether or not the facade is saved. It’s not a matter of “can” the facade but saved, but rather “should” any of it be saved and what is the price tag – and where would that money come from. That’s what I’ve been trying to find out. Money was allocated in the bond for the facade, but I haven’t been able to find out how far that would go in terms of saving any of the facade. I was handed options by a school board member recently which included the possibility of keeping certain panels – such as the center portion with the front door. I thought that was on the table for future public discussion and then suddenly the press release came out proclaiming the facade couldn’t be saved. I’m meeting with the architects and Enfield next week to find out why we’re not all on the same page fact-wise and what the options still are in terms of public discussion and the future of the facade. I’m also trying to find out the price tags for saving one or more panels and the difference in price for shoring up versus rebuilding the wall. I just feel the public should know since they’re paying the bills.

    Rate: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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