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Site chosen for new FWHS
The Federal Way School Board unanimously agreed upon the preliminary siting recommendation for the new Federal Way High School (FWHS).
The new FWHS will be located on the southeast corner of the current property, a decision arrived at after numerous meetings and feedback from the community.
SRG Architects presented three basic site options — simply named north, east and south sites — last September for the new school on the existing 38-acre site.
"All three of those options meet the criteria that we had made then, to maintain the existing stadium, to allow students to stay on-site throughout construction, and to respect the history of the site," said SRG Architects representative Jane Hendricks at the school board's April 9 meeting.
Hendricks said SRG had looked in-depth at each each siting option, and had also taken into consideration the feedback they had received from forums with the public and FWHS staff and faculty.
Based on all of that, SRG and the siting committee decided on the south site option for the new FWHS.
"We're still a long way from having an actual site design, but based on these studies, we feel confident on the south site, specifically the southeast corner of the existing high school site, as the best sort of starting place for the new building," she said. "Anchoring the new building at the corner creates a strong presence along Pacific Highway, that echoes the location of the original school that was on that site in 1938. It provides visibility to the community, promotes involvement and engagement, and provides a safe learning environment for the students."
Hendricks also noted the south site option "works with the natural features of the site" to "create a clear organizational hierarchy within the campus," and helps the district "plan for future partnerships or expansion."
School board director Ed Barney asked about connecting the new facilities to the school's football stadium — an urge that Facilities Services Director Rod Leland said FWPS officials and board members will have to resist at this point.
"The temptation to go into detail is upon us," Leland said. "We've actually gone too far already in this presentation, because we allowed you to make the assumption we've done the design work you just asked about…This is really just to show how developing from the southeast corner might look. The blocks in brown, of which many people have assumed are the organization and design of the building, simply show the volume. We've got 230,000 square feet, (and this is asking) can you get it on this corner and make some sense of it? That's as far as we've gone on design."
School board member Danny Peterson said he was happy just to have a feeling that something is moving forward on the project.
"Awesome. I'm excited to see progress moving forward," he said.
School board member Claire Wilson pressed Hendricks and Leland for more details on the information that led to the south site being chosen.
"In a lot of the public comment we go in the various open house meetings…it was really important for Federal Way High School to kind of have a face, a front on Pacific Highway, to really kind of take back the community," Hendricks answered. "That really is the most significant, underlying reason for recommending the south site."
"Fly the flag of the 'flagship,'" Leland replied, reading from some notes he had taken during a recent siting committee meeting.
Both also noted that the south site has the best potential for keeping students safe during construction, and also making sure the various construction phases can be kept secure as best as possible during the duration of the project.
To learn more about the FWHS project, visit www.fwps.org.