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.
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