Denny/Sealth: Design decisions get closer

For the first time in the months we’ve been covering the Denny Middle School/Chief Sealth High School combined-campus controversy/vote/aftermath, we sat in this afternoon on a meeting of the School Design Team, which includes reps from various constituencies with various types of ties to one or both schools. Today’s major items included the first look at a proposal for the exterior design of the new Denny on the Sealth campus, and Denny principal Jeff Clark didn’t mince words with his first reaction — that and more ahead:

We don’t have electronic copies of the Denny renderings shown at this afternoon’s meeting (held in the Denny library). Design elements included “butterfly roofs” to deflect rainwater, as well as various colors, including some areas of dark gray and other areas of a buff/cream color. Clark said, “I don’t love it. To me, it looks like a really nice condo. It doesn’t jump out to me that this is a multicultural school.”

He later voiced concerns that while the color palette might look pleasant in the renderings — which depicted a sunny day with blue sky and puffy white clouds — they might not be so cheery-looking under the more-typical gray Northwest sky. Architects promised they would do another mockup showing what that might look like.

In subsequent discussion, the group discussed visual elements that might help meet the goals of both brightening the facade and adding a multicultural element — such as some kind of art feature, maybe even created by students, in a prominent place. Architects said they welcomed the idea, but repeatedly stressed, someone from the school would have to “own it” and make sure it happened. Clark said he would help coordinate.

(Another Denny priority that came up later is the matter of an optimal ceiling type for the music room; right now it’s concave, but experts apparently say it should be convex for better acoustic quality; architects say they’re working on it.)

After the Denny discussion, the architects’ presentation turned to a few elements of Sealth design, specifically some additions to be facilitated by part of the $10 million “extra” the School Board added to the project. (As we’ve reported, voting has been under way at the school, among groups including parents, students, and attendees at the recent public meeting, asking them to prioritize which potential additions they would want to spend the money on.)

The most popular option at that public meeting, the added computer lab in the Sealth library, is being worked into the plan, according to what was presented this afternoon. Another focus: Options for how to add three more classrooms, described as a major concern for Sealth staff. Three possibilities were shown this afternoon, focusing on space around the current Sealth commons, and they are to be sent electronically to the Sealth staff tomorrow for their review.

Also discussed, some changes around the gym entry that are meant to address security concerns. As for the other possibilities on the long list of what the $10 million might be spent on — architects say they are being considered as the design process goes along, and most (aside from a few that were ranked at the bottom) are being considered as possible alternatives, in case there turns out to be money to make them all happen — it was noted that the current state of the economy could mean that the project costs will be more beneficial to the district.

Denny principal Clark noted at this point in the discussion that his school has a wish list too and he wants to make sure it remains under consideration as the project proceeds, rather than having all the focus be on what elements Sealth gets and doesn’t get.

Before the meeting’s end, it was decided that the Design Team would need to keep meeting through the summer, as this is a critical decisionmaking time for the project. The next meeting is set for June 2nd at Sealth; the one after that, July 7th.

Work will be starting quickly, as well; right now, a big focus for many at Sealth is getting ready for the transition to their temporary quarters for the next two years at the former Boren Junior High School on Delridge – it was mentioned this afternoon that movers are doing walkthroughs right now.

As for the site they’ll be vacating after the school year ends in mid-June, Evans says construction crews “probably will have started to turn dirt over at the Sealth site before the next school year starts” — with the first wave of work including demolition (the portables “will probably be gone,” he said), and the start of work on the boiler system.

Currently, contractor selection is under way, and that should be complete by late June or early July.

Other next steps: Evans says that meetings will be held before the end of the year, possibly as soon as late summer, to discuss the future of the current Denny site, and promised that those meetings would be held in conjunction with the Westwood Neighborhood Council.

All WSB coverage of Denny/Sealth is archived here, in reverse chronological order.

9 Replies to "Denny/Sealth: Design decisions get closer"

  • westello May 21, 2008 (2:41 pm)

    I’m sure Mr. Clark does have a wish list but his school IS getting the lion’s share of money so I don’t see how they will be overlooked. Sheesh, how anyone can begrudge Sealth is hard to understand.

  • Marlene May 21, 2008 (3:51 pm)

    Thank you westello for your comment. I’ve tried to use great restraint making any more comments on the Denny-Sealth merger, but Jeff Clark’s egomaniacal protestations are almost too much to bear. What pray tell could possibly jump out at him that would satisfy his aesthetic sensibilities?

    I thought that the 10 mil was for Sealth to make up for the take aways from the original plan. He is questioning why people are concerned with what Sealth will get or won’t get. Why shouldn’t we question what we get or won’t get….it is so little in comparison to Denny.

    Thank God for the WSB or I wouldn’t have found out any information. The post said the the 3 options for design options for Sealth would be sent to us electronically. As usual, the promises made by Goodloe-Johnson are empty. The staff at Sealth is the last to know. There was no electronic notification sent to staff, no engagement on the part of the district, and empty promises to begin a transparent and open process.

    We had a two and a half hour early dismissal to discuss various topics, and not one had to do with the design changes. I wonder when admin will decide to show us the options. Probably over the summer when we’re not available.

  • Duron Jones May 21, 2008 (9:53 pm)

    It’s been a while since I’ve commented on the Denny/Sealth project or at least on the West Seattle blog for that matter, but I just wanted to clear up some of the confusion as to what went on at the last BDT meeting.
    The $10 million is for Sealth and will be used to get what Sealth’s constituent groups prioritized as a whole. What Jeff Clark was referring to when he spoke on the Denny wish list was if there was any saved money from the project as a whole, excluding the $10 million, that Denny should be allowed to get some items that they want/need.
    The promise of the presentation for the three options was not made by Goodloe-Johnson it was made by an architect and it was said that they would send the options to the Sealth side of the Design Team so they could share it with the groups they represent to gain the necessary input. That information has not been sent to us so it was not an intentional exclusion for the staff meeting today.

  • WSB May 21, 2008 (10:16 pm)

    Thanks for commenting, Duron. However, I need to note that I didn’t write that Denny’s wish list was coming from the $10 million; I accurately reflected what Jeff Clark said – Denny has a wish list too and he wants to make sure it is addressed in the process. Which refers to what I wrote in the preceding line, regarding whether there might turn out to be money saved in the project enabling more of Sealth’s wish list to be built – that was when Clark interjected his concern – and it seemed relevant to where the discussion was going at that time – the architects said they were including almost all the suggested Sealth add-ons as “alternatives” in case money became available from efficiencies/savings in the project, and at that point it was noted “Denny has a wish list too” and the architects asked that it be sent to them. I also very clearly heard and noted (just rechecked my notes) that the options for the Sealth area/possible added classrooms would be sent to the Sealth staff the next day. Sorry to hear that two days have gone by and that apparently didn’t happen; we will check with project staff and architects tomorrow to see if we can get the presentation (which was described at Monday’s meeting as “hot off the press”) for publication here as well — TR

  • Marlene May 21, 2008 (10:26 pm)

    Doesn’t the architect work for the District?

  • WSB May 21, 2008 (10:29 pm)

    The firm is Bassetti; certainly the district is paying them.

  • GenHillOne May 22, 2008 (8:56 am)

    Thank you for your input, Duron. WSB/TR, I take Duron’s comment as a reflection on the unnecessary pot-stirring rather than your initial report. I too hope those materials come your way soon.

  • Marlene May 24, 2008 (10:43 am)

    Still no information from Bassetti, the District, or the design team.

  • Marlene July 8, 2008 (5:34 pm)

    It is now July 8, and still no information from Bassetti, the District or the design team on classroom addition design changes. Empty promises continued.

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