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Hot pink schools? Federal Way projects flirt with controversy

A rendering of the new Lakeland Elementary School. Colors print slightly different then they appear, architect Norm Greenberg said. The actual “paint chips” that were shown to the board are a much brighter hot pink, rather than magenta, and the teal is also a slightly different shade in real life. - Courtesy image
A rendering of the new Lakeland Elementary School. Colors print slightly different then they appear, architect Norm Greenberg said. The actual “paint chips” that were shown to the board are a much brighter hot pink, rather than magenta, and the teal is also a slightly different shade in real life.
— image credit: Courtesy image

It’s more brightly colored walls and non-traditional library spaces for the next two elementary schools in Federal Way — despite complaints about those very issues the last time around.

During the first round of bond construction projects in 2008, the Federal Way School District ran into some opposition to plans including the “librateria” and color schemes at Valhalla Elementary School.

Architects unveiled the designs for the next construction projects, Lakeland and Sunnycrest elementary schools. This time, there are optional spaces that could be used for a library, and the colors are slightly more muted.

“The colors are bold, but in a different way,” said Rod Leland, director of facilities.

Lakeland and Sunnycrest are both designed in the same boxy way as Valhalla and Panther Lake elementary schools, with large blocks of walls, each a different color. In the case of Lakeland, the colors are red, teal, hot pink, forest green and neon green, with several accent walls that are a dark blue/green. At Sunnycrest, the walls are several shades of blue and green with many white walls.

“These colors are very bright,” board member Angela Griffin commented. Griffin said she was worried the colors would be districting for students who can see the colors from their classrooms, noting that was something they had heard complaints about at other schools.

“We’re cognizant of what happens when you have to stare at that all day,” DLR Group architect Noah Greenberg said. He said designers had tried to make sure that the brightest walls weren’t visible from classrooms.

“I love these colors,” board member Amye Bronson-Doherty said. “They lend themselves to a child’s setting.”

There are also many walls made of the glazed and transparent plastic material that is used on the other schools. Classrooms also have many windows, allowing the community to see in and promote transparency in the schools.

At Lakeland Elementary, the library is right near the entrance, more of a social gathering area where half the students will walk through on the way to their classrooms. The plan is to use bookshelves to “guide the students through the library,” Greenberg said.

At Sunnycrest, there are two smaller options for a library — as Greenberg termed it, the “senior and junior” spaces for “literary purposes” — at opposite ends of the school.

The district is making some changes from the day-to-day problems that have plagued the newer schools, such as the lack of consistent heat and the sound traveling issues. Construction crews are adding extra sensor slabs into the concrete floors to better monitor the heat at the new schools, along with solutions to help reduce the sound that comes from having concrete floors throughout the school.

Public comment

The board is scheduled to approve the design so that the district can begin working on permits its meeting 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at City Hall. Feb. 9 is also the same day as public comment will be taken at the first showing at Lakeland Elementary, 35675 32nd Ave. S., starting at 6:30 p.m.

Board members asked if the design could be changed following the public comments. The architect said that since there are no weight bearing walls in the classrooms, some changes could be made at any time. However, any major changes were somewhat past the point of no return, Greenberg said.

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