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Architect chosen for Federal Way High School renovation

A student walks the halls of Federal Way High School in this November 2011 photo. Towels along the walls are used to combat significant leaks in the school
A student walks the halls of Federal Way High School in this November 2011 photo. Towels along the walls are used to combat significant leaks in the school's hallways.
— image credit: Greg Allmain/Federal Way Mirror

SRG Partnership, a Seattle-based architectural firm, has been chosen as Federal Way Public Schools' early partner in developing plans for the proposed renovation of Federal Way High School.

A capital levy to rebuild Federal Way High School will be on the ballot again in November. If approved by voters, the levy will raise $60 million to rebuild the aging high school.

Facility services director Rod Leland explained how he and his staff, along with other Federal Way school officials, chose SRG Partnership.

"Eleven firms submitted their qualifications for our consideration," Leland said at the June 12 board meeting. "We screened that down to five, the best that met the criteria for the project at Federal Way High School."

Leland said an interview team was put together, which included two administrators, a student and parent from Federal Way High School, and a few other district officials and partners. The team talked extensively with the five firms and narrowed it down to two finalists.

Leland said SRG seemed like the best fit because of the firm's wide range of experience.

"They did a project for Portland Public Schools called the DaVinci Arts School…a custom program highly recognized around the country for its forward thinking about the arts. For Grays Harbor Community College, they designed an auto and welding shop. … Also for Grays Harbor Community College, they designed the science, math, art and nursing facility."

Outside of those projects, Leland said SRG had recently done the renovation of a science center for the University of Puget Sound. Leland said SRG is partnered with a firm that specializes in studying "learning spaces." He mentioned that some of the primary people involved at SRG were educated at Harvard University, while some others are graduates of the prestigious University of California-Berkeley architecture program.

UC-Berkeley s one of the five or six premier architecture schools in the country, Leland said.

FWPS superintendent Rob Neu said he wanted to make sure that everyone understood that this initial agreement was not for a full project at this time.

"I just want to emphasize this is not a commitment to a full architecture agreement. That would be to the tune of $4 million right now. It's basically a 'not to exceed costs for personal services agreement,' so we can get those initial drawings that our community has asked for," Neu said.

Federal Way School Board member Danny Peterson said he was eager to see what SRG can produce in these preliminary stages.

"I'm excited to see what kind of designs they come up with, especially with a school like this, built in 1938. I know for a lot of voters, they're anxious to see how we can maintain the historic parts of that school while making it a 21st century school that propels our students into the future," he said.

Leland touted SRG's experience in just this kind of scenario.

"As you go over their experience in renovations of historic buildings, and renovating occupied educational facilities, they have good experience with that," he said.

Peterson noted that part of their conversation around SRG had revolved around the firm's recent renovation of parts of Pike Place Market in Seattle.

NOVEMBER ELECTION

A capital levy to rebuild Federal Way High School will be on the ballot again in November.

If approved by voters, the levy will raise $60 million to rebuild the aging Federal Way High School. The money will also renovate and update 19 playgrounds at the city's elementary schools, and bring the district’s security camera systems up to par.

In the Feb. 14 special election, the levy failed with about 47.5 percent of voters saying yes. The district has one more opportunity to present the levy to voters in 2012.

The remodeling of Federal Way High School is the district's top priority as far as construction projects. The district has already saved $50 million for the project, which has a total estimated cost of $110 million.

Leading up the November election, Federal Way Public Schools will hold forums and conversations with various sectors of the community.

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