District eyeing significant demolition, rebuild for Alki Elementary

Apr 28, 2022, 6:28 AM
(Seattle Public Schools)...
(Seattle Public Schools)
(Seattle Public Schools)

Alki Elementary School will undergo sizeable constructional changes after the Department of Neighborhoods Landmarks Preservation Board voted against nominating the school for landmark designation consideration.

The board’s vote ended with 2 in favor and 7 opposed.

One board member supported the nomination because of the modernist structure and wanting to preserve the work of architect Theo Damm. The second board member in support of landmark status voted because he heard a request from a community member during public comment. He also noted that the school district has an interesting relationship with its buildings, according to the historic preservation committee.

“This outcome is but another step in a multi-step process that the district has been implementing since 2016 concerning replacement of the existing school,” said Richard Best, director of capital projects and planning. “The district’s current proposal is the demolition of the 1950’s administrative and classroom west addition and the 1960’s central classroom wing while retaining the 1950’s gymnasium and community center east addition.”

The district pursued changes to Alki Elementary due to an assessment labeling the buildings in “poor condition” in terms of structural analysis and educational adequacy. Studies conducted included a structural evaluation in 2012 by PCS Structural Solutions, a facilities and educational assessment by Meng Analysis in 2014, and a facilities and site assessment implemented by McKinstry in 2018, according to the district.

These studies concluded many of the existing buildings were either in poor or unsatisfactory condition, including the exterior walls, windows, heating and ventilation, fire suppression, electrical service and distribution, and data/communications systems.

“When assessing the costs of the replacement of these existing systems and considering the requirements the city of Seattle will impose, it made economic sense to replace the existing administration and classroom wings at the school to better address the educational program needs of the district and better position our staff and students for successful academic outcomes,” said Best.

Alki Elementary has fared well statistically, as the 359-student school ranks 7% and 12% higher than the district average in proficiency in reading and math, according to a U.S. News educational study. The numbers jump to 14% and 23% higher when compared to the state’s average.

The school currently ranks 36th out of 70 elementary schools in the district in test score averages.

“The new school when constructed will create a warm, welcoming and accessible environment for all students, staff, and community members; and include updated security features that will enhance student and staff safety,” said Best. “In addition, the new school will provide a high-quality academic environment that will allow for individual, small group and large group instruction outside the classroom.”

Updated classroom technology with interactive whiteboards will be at the forefront of the construction project to better support student learning.

The school will also meet the district’s sustainability goals, utilizing less energy per square foot than allowed by code while enhancing the thermal comfort of building end-users.

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District eyeing significant demolition, rebuild for Alki Elementary