The public is invited to ‘get the scoop’ on Highline High School’s faÃ§ade straight from the architects at an ‘Ask the Architects’ community meeting on Thursday, Oct. 19.
This open and free meeting will run from 6:30 – 8 p.m. in the Highline High School Cafeteria.
The district will also have news about the new middle and elementary schools.
“Our 2016 citizen-led bond planning committee recommended rebuilding Highline High School and preserving the facade if structurally and financially feasible,” the district said. “When bond funds were approved, our expert project team studied the wall construction, sampled soils and compiled cost estimates. Here’s what they concluded:”
“One of our initial tasks in designing the new Highline High School was to examine the feasibility of maintaining all or portions of the historic building. Due to historic construction methods, poor bearing soils beneath the school and the new programmatic needs of a 21st century high school it is not structurally and economically feasible to preserve all or portions of the historic building.
“Our next exploration examined how to retain the character of the historic school while rebuilding with modern, code legal, construction methods. It is possible to replicate a historic building, however, Secretary of Interiors Standards for Historic Preservation (the federal guidelines for dealing with historic buildings) discourage developing designs that copy older structures because they portray a false narrative of the evolving historical record. Our current design references the historic north facade without creating a sense of “false historicism.” We are using similar materials, proportions, textures, colors, rhythms and fenestration, but not pretending that the building was constructed in the early 20th century. We are also examining the potential of reconstructing the historic 1928, Georgian style, pedimented entry. By utilizing salvaged components from the original entry as one of the elements composing the new faÃ§ade, we hope to evoke the importance of the historic building within the Highline community. Our goal is to both honor the rich history of Highline High School while simultaneously providing students with an elegant and durable school able to support powerful learning for the next 100 years.”
Lorne McConachie, FAIA
Here’s a FAQ put out by the district:
- When will the new Highline High School open for occupancy?
The rebuilt Highline High School will open for students in August 2021. Where will students be for three years during the rebuild?
- Why can’t we save the facade of Highline High School?
Our technical team (architects, structural engineer, and other contractors) determined that, based on the conditions of the soil and the masonry, there is a significant risk the north wall would collapse during the structural reinforcement process.
- Did the district already know that retaining the faÃ§ade was not possible?
No, the technical evaluation was completed using bonds funds for this purpose.
- If we can’t save it, why can’t we replicate the faÃ§ade exactly?
It is very difficult or impossible to locate and replicate the materials faithfully. Bassetti Architects advises that it is not best practice to attempt to exactly replicate historic buildings with new products.
- If other historic buildings can be preserved, why not Highline HIgh School?
In other Bassetti projects, exterior walls had thicker facades attached to a stable concrete backing.
- Is it true that school district staff never intended to preserve the facade?
No. We have spent bond dollars on evaluating the condition of the wall in a good faith effort to honor our commitment to preserve as much of the facade as structurally and financially feasible.
- Why can’t we rebuild it with the same bricks?
Some of the bricks are up to 90 years old, so a significant percentage will crumble in the deconstruction process and not be reusable. We are considering ways we can incorporate salvaged brick in creative ways in the new design.
- Isn’t there a contingency fund in the bond to pay for preserving the faÃ§ade?
There is a $24 million contingency fund to cover cost escalation, inflation, and unanticipated issues in all projects in the bond. The purpose of this fund is to ensure that all the promised bond projects can be completed.
- Why did the district decide to tear down the wall without public input?
The project team has determined that it is not financially or structurally feasible to preserve the wall, and has made a recommendation that the wall be rebuilt. However, there has been no decision on what the design of the new wall will be.
- Does the faÃ§ade of Highline High School have historical landmark status?
The City of Burien does not list Highline High School as a historical landmark.
- Is the August 2017 artistic rendering of the new Highline High School intended to be an exterior design?
We have been using a watercolor sketch to represent the Highline High School project when promoting the “Ask the Architect” community meeting scheduled for October 19. It is very early in the design phase for this project, and there is no exterior design determined yet.
- Will there be auto shop and wood shop at the rebuilt Highline High School?
The existing Highline High School includes a wood shop; there is not an auto shop. Planning for the new school includes a new wood shop; it does not include an auto shop.
“Award-winning design solutions for historic buildings are Bassetti’s trademark (read more here),” the district said. “Bassetti Architects was selected for the HHS project for the firm’s experience in rebuilding historic schools.”
Initial design work and school plans are being reviewed by a committee of staff, students, families and community members. The first draft of exterior designs will be shared this month with the general public in an Oct. 19 community meeting.
All are invited:
WHAT: Ask-the-Architects Community Meeting
WHERE: Highline High School cafeteria, 225 South 152nd Street, Burien
WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 19, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
More information about the Highline High School project are on the district’sÂ website.]]>