Design team settles on unique preferred alternative for new school

At yesterday afternoon’s meeting of the School Design Advisory Team (SDAT), BLRB Architects presented three variations on previously presented designs, plus one entirely new one. Under the new design, the building would be mainly on the north half of the site, but in two distinct parts–one on the upper level and one on the lower level. These would be connected by enclosed bridges and would keep the building from feeling as spread out as under some of the other alternatives.

In addition, the play areas (grassy field, asphalt play area, and covered play area) would be located on the SW corner of the site (upper level) and the staff parking would be moved to the lower field area. This would make the corner of 51st Ave. SW and SW Genesee St. more attractive than if it had a parking lot, and would make supervision and access to and from the play areas easier for staff and students.

To see a site plan and mock-ups of the design from various angles, please visit the West Seattle Blog. Tracy Record attended the Community Conversation last night and did a nice write-up. I am adding a few more details below.

All of the alternatives presented to SDAT yesterday involved reducing the height difference between the upper and lower areas by moving several feet of soil from the upper area to all or part of the lower area. Because the lower area is smaller, moving a few feet of soil from up above translates into a greater depth at the lower field. The increased elevation of the lower field will create a downward slope between at least some of the lower field and the easement and adjoining properties to the east.

One advantage of the preferred alternative is that it would not carve into the hillsides and would therefore be less expensive. In addition, the hillside with all the trees would be preserved (which is something GSNC has been pushing for).

Property owners to the east may be glad to know that the building must be at least 30-35′ from the property line to allow for emergency vehicle access. In addition, the architects talked about mitigating both sound concerns and views of the building and parking lot with additional plantings near the property line. The parking lot is also likely to be moved as far toward the forested slope as possible.

The SDAT consensus was that the new design is the preferred alternative, which means that the architects will move forward with fine-tuning it rather than develop further alternatives. The design was also well-received by community members who attended the Seattle Public Schools’ Community Conversation event later in the evening.

If you have comments on this design, please do share them with us here.

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One Response to Design team settles on unique preferred alternative for new school

  1. Jeff says:

    I put this comment on the WSB post as well…
    http://westseattleblog.com/2013/01/preferred-schematic-design-debuts-for-future-genesee-hill-school

    Would be nice to see covered bike parking somewhere. 48th is planned to be a Neighborhood Greenway, and Dakota is the least steep street to climb up to get to the school.

    Having a covered bike parking facility on the north side of the school (where the visitor’s parking area is) would keep bikes away from motorized vehicle traffic. Bus loading zone and parent drop-off shows on the west side (along 51st), so bike parking accessible from Dakota would probably be less stressful for everyone.

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