Architect notes serious deficiencies in FWHS building

Deficiencies in Federal Way High School’s existing design that will be addressed if the capital levy passes in the November election. - Courtesy image
Deficiencies in Federal Way High School’s existing design that will be addressed if the capital levy passes in the November election.
— image credit: Courtesy image

Jane Hendricks of SRG Partnership Inc. gave a presentation to the Federal Way School Board on Sept. 25, informing of the desperate need for a complete rebuild of the aging Federal Way High School.

Starting with a photo from 1936, Hendricks showed the constant progression of construction on the FWHS campus.

In the process of the high school’s “accretion,” a number of serious problems arose, Hendricks said. Among the school’s 20 restrooms, only three are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. The building has 48 entry/exit points, a condition that raises concerns for the security and safety of the students, staff and administrators inside. Hendricks shared another revelation about the current building.

“If you walk along this purple line,” she said, referencing another graphic from her presentation, “all the way from here, to the other end of the school, you’re walking more than a quarter of a mile.”

The sprawling state of the current building means that many classrooms do not receive adequate natural light for the learning activities that take place inside, Hendricks said.

The SRG senior team member referenced a 2005 report — and how not much has changed in the seven years since the study took place.

"The 2005 study documents many problems with the building's physical infrastructure as well. It does not comply with the correct codes for structural and seismic design, for accessibility and for many other areas," she said. "And many of the systems (in the building) have far exceeded their useful lives, to the point where these building and educational deficiencies are inherent in the design of the exiting building and cannot be addressed through renovation."

Through the first bit of this process, Hendricks said she and her SRG associates have come up with a few strategies on how to address rebuilding the school, if the capital project levy is approved in November.

The architects decided upon three approaches: a north, south, or east approach. Each approach has its pros and cons regarding accessibility and other factors for students, staff and visitors during the rebuild.

Three promises

Outside of that, she said SRG can make three promises to the students and faculty of FWHS, and to the community of Federal Way as a whole:

• Memorial Stadium will stay open and operational throughout the project.

• Students will be kept on site throughout the project construction.

• The design will reuse some components of the historical building on site to retain the "strong sense of history, and the powerful traditions that we've heard of from students and alumni," she said.

If the voters say yes in November, Hendricks outlined what the next steps would be.

"After a successful election, that's when detailed design will start, but not before there have been many more open conversations with the community to find out what the concerns are," she said.

"As we move ahead, we'll be asking ourselves, you, everyone, 'What is the learning environment of the future and what's the best way to support Federal Way High School students and to help them be successful in the 21st century?'"

About the levy

In the Nov. 6 general election, voters are being asked to approve a $60 million levy. The money will help rebuild FWHS, improve playground equipment at Federal Way elementary schools, and help standardize the district’s security camera systems.

The remodeling of Federal Way High School is the district’s top priority as far as construction projects. The district has saved $50 million for the project, which has a total estimated cost of $110 million. The capital levy will be less costly because there will be no interest payments. The district expects the cost to homeowners would be $92 per year for every $100,000 of assessed property value.


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