Community, staff and architects collaborate on thoughtful school design
The new Highline High School (HHS) will reopen fall 2021 with its grand main entrance reconstructed using the original brick and terra cotta. The historic entrance will be the main entry to the new school and front office, opening to the Commons and the two academic wings in the new design. Community members learned about this and more at the May 17 Ask-the-Architect meeting.
The planning and design of the new building is the result of intensive collaboration between Bassetti architects, Highline High School staff and a design review committee comprised of community members, staff and a student.
“It’s truly exciting to think of our school of the future serving students for many years to come,” Principal and Highline High School Alumna Vicki Fisher said.
See the latest designs and building layout plans (large file, 12.6 KB) or see individual display boards at end of article.
Main Entrance Rebuilt of Original Materials
The main entrance will be rebuilt with the same brick and terra cotta at almost the same location. (The entrance stairs will be eliminated to improve accessibility.)
The new brick used for the rest of the building will match the original brick in color and texture. (It would be significantly more expensive to clean and reuse all the old brick, plus a portion would crumble during the process.)
Security will be enhanced by a set of vestibule doors at the entrance. After school starts for the day, all but one main access door will be locked, and visitors will be observed and access permitted by staff in the front office.
A system of security cameras will be installed.
Interior and exterior doors will be able to be locked automatically from on site or by security staff off site.
Metal detectors are not included for multiple reasons, including requiring a police officer at each point of entry. We can make more efficient, positive and effective use of security staff throughout our schools, building relationships while interacting with students and helping to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Collaborative Academic Spaces
The academic wings will feature eight learning clusters, each with four classrooms, a lab, learning commons and seminar space. Each cluster also will be associated with a career and technical education (CTE) program space.
The north wing will be two stories. The south wing will be three stories.
Physical Fitness Spaces
The fitness spaces will include a new gym, auxiliary gym and activity room on the main level. Additional space on the second floor includes a weight room and an activity room.
The locker rooms are conveniently located on the south side of the building so athletes can enter directly from the stadium or fields.
The new gym will seat 1,500 people for assemblies and up to 900 for basketball and volleyball games.
The architects maximized most of the outdoor space into the west and southeast courtyards on this tightly constrained site. Areas for active play, socializing and outdoor learning activities are planned for the two courtyards.
Drop-off and Parking
A dedicated bus drop-off zone will extend along the south side of the school, with students arriving by bus from South 156th Street and entering through the southeast courtyard.
A separate drop-off lane for students being dropped off by families will flow in from South 152nd Street along the west side of the school, with entry through the west courtyard.
Visitors can park along the northwest side of the school and enter through the main entrance. Staff can park on the west or the southeast side of the school.
Administrative and Other Spaces
Administrative offices will be at the main entrance. Additional administrative offices, including attendance, security and nursing, will be located at the southeast entrance.
The Commons—a hallway and common space that connects the north and south academic wings—will include eating spaces on the first floor along windows that look out on the west courtyard.
Counseling offices, the teacher’s lounge, the library, and the career center will be on the second floor of the Commons.
A flexible 400-seat theatre is designed to serve a smaller group of 150 equally well.
The wood shop, music, choir and drama classrooms will be on the first level.
Some of the large, existing trees in front of the school will be preserved.
The entry plaza design includes bike parking, flagpole and seating. An ornamental rain garden will collect and slow down stormwater entering the storm system. Angled pathways will connect students from South 152nd Street to the main entry. The garden will demonstrate a succession of plants from meadow to mature forest, including the existing grove of mature conifers. The landscape will serve as a welcoming foreground to the new building and a teaching tool.
Heating & Air Conditioning
Thanks to advances in technology, the new high school will have a Direct Digital Control (DDC) system featuring state-of-the-art air conditioning and heating control. DDC allows for individual classroom temperature control. The system will have a dedicated outdoor air supply with filtration to ensure good air quality.
Windows will be non-opening. The DDC system will maintain air quality and heating/cooling efficiency, similar to the new Health Sciences Building constructed in 2017 at the Puget Sound Skills Center. This lowers energy costs and maintains classroom comfort levels.
Bassetti Architects is 50% complete with design development, the second of three design phases, including 10 meetings so far with a design review committee of school staff and community members.
Once the design development phase is finished, the project will undergo a complete cost estimate, followed by six months of detailed design work, leading up to the permitting process.
Permits should be completed by spring 2019, so that demolition can start as soon as school ends in June 2019. Construction will last 23 months, with the new building opening in fall 2021. Students will attend school for two years at the Olympic Interim Site in Des Moines during HHS construction (fall 2019 to spring 2021).