Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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It's a Grand, New Pirate Ship!

Students Return to a New HHS

From bow to stern, the new Highline High School is drawing Pirate praise. "It's gorgeous. And that's an understatement," says Scott Logan, district chief of operations. “We’ve been flooded with positive early reactions from staff, students, community and alumni to the beautiful rebuild of a school with nearly 100 years of history, delivered on time and within budget."

Students returned to school in person on September 2, 2021.

Key Features

Wood shop at HHS with teacher

The 230,000-square-foot facility includes:

  • 90 classrooms
  • Science laboratories
  • Manufacturing shop
  • Wood shop
  • Computer science laboratory
  • Nutrition & culinary classroom
  • Fine arts, ceramics and photography classrooms
  • Band, choir and small practice rooms
  • 400-seat theater for productions or speakers
  • Black box theater
  • Student store
  • 2 gyms
  • Full district production kitchen
  • "Genius bars," or high counters and stools with charging plug-ins throughout the school
  • Demonstration, planning and small-group meeting spaces
  • "Learning stairs," or large stepped seating, for sitting, working or listening
Photo of stained-glass pirate at HHS

History, by Design

In the design, Bassetti Architects preserved key pieces of history in the new building.

  • Terra-cotta details were salvaged and used to replicate the main entrance, minus the stairs.
  • Stained-glass pirate artwork, which was installed in the center entrance window as a class gift in the 1960s, was refurbished and reinstalled just inside the main entrance where it can be seen from both sides as well as the second floor.
  • Brass handrail from the original school is back in service in the commons area as a decorative feature on the "learning stairs," next to the stairway that leads to the library.
  • A 20-panel history wall begins inside the main entrance, and the second set of 10 panels, highlighting athletics, is installed at the entrance to the main gym. The history panels contain curated photos and snippets of school history spanning 1924-2021.

Innovative Construction, Pandemic Timeline

As both the general contractor and construction manager, Skanska worked closely with the owner and design team on preconstruction services and planning for the project. The timeline accommodated the school’s request to move out and salvage some furnishings, to overlap the start of construction, and to separate access zones and operation hours to ensure safety, and keep the adjacent district stadium operational and open for use throughout the project.

Crews demolished the old buildings from southeast to northwest, and followed the same direction for construction progress. 

Adjusting in response to the COVID pandemic, Skanska rewrote its health and safety job site rules for all tasks, posted signs, took temperatures, wore masks and created more space between construction workers.

Demolition and construction met the two-year timeline and the new school opened to students as scheduled on September 2, 2021.

Skanska Built the Theater Upside Down!

View of theater at HHS under construction (January 14, 2021).
Interior of HHS theater

While in most construction, teams build from the ground up, this part of the project was built from the top down to address both complicated logistics and safety considerations. When building high volume theaters, people are often working from lifts atop tiered seating slabs, and there are multiple tradespeople – mechanical, electrical, plumbing and more – working overhead at once.

Skanska’s approach was to work from the flat compacted subgrade, or the native foundational layer, to complete the overhead catwalks, ceilings, painting, lighting, and mechanical and audio systems before grading the area and installing the tiered concrete slabs at the front of the house in sequential layers, essentially building the theatre from the top down and eliminating the need for specialty equipment.

See more photos of the new school or take a look back at construction progress.

Community Grand Opening & Alumni Reception - Postponed!

UPDATED September 28, 2021--

HHS Grand Opening Postponed; Self-Guided Tours Offered October 22 & 23


Close-up photo of Highline High School entrance.