Patrick Robinson
Tim Waters of BN Builders, Mike Skutack of Seattle Public Schools, Dana Amore of Bassetti Architects and River Steenson of BN Builders cut the ribbon to open the newly expanded areas of the Southwest Athletic complex, on the former site of Denny International Middle School. CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE

SLIDESHOW: Completed Southwest Athletic Complex now offers fields, courts and playground gear

The 7 acre, $6.1 million addition to the Southwest Athletic Complex at 8420 30th Ave. s.w. is now complete and in a walk through on Jan. 6 the former location of Denny International Junior High School, representatives for the builders, architects, and Seattle Public Schools explained the work that was done to remake the site.

The site now includes a new softball diamond, with tall fences, six tennis courts, a large field/play area (not yet open), playground equipment at the corner of 30th Ave. s.w. and Cloverdale Street, plus walkways, fences, cement seat walls, bike racks and a lot of water management features.


On the walkthrough were Dana Amore of Bassetti Architects who handled the project design, Tim Waters and River Steenson of BN Builders, General Contractor for the project, and Mike Skutack, Capital Projects Supervisor for Seattle Public Schools.

Since the site drops 50 feet from 30th Ave. s.w. to the point that it joins the southern parking lot for the facility handling water was a major concern. To manage it, the site has a series of 5 rain gardens from small to large, and a massive underground "detention vault" that the drainage system feeds into where particulate matter will settle down, leaving cleaner water to flow out. The vault is 20 feet wide by 10 feet tall by 120 feet long. The rain gardens are all planted with highly water tolerant plants which can even be submerged for short periods.

The site features 12 foot tall lighting fixtures which are "down lighting" meeting another community request for less obtrusive light fixtures.

Dana Amore, of Bassetti Architects said, "One of the best things about this whole facility, is that it grew out of the larger project, which is Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School. This is the third phase of that larger project." Amore explained that the project really began in the planning stages in 2007, moving to the field in 2008. At the outset and through the development phases many concerns were raised about bringing the two schools together. "I don't think anyone was sad to see the old Denny Middle School not stick around," though she acknowledged some nostalgia from former students.

"One of the important aspects of the project was that the school district got back what they previously had. So the softball field is exactly the same size as the one that was removed at Chief Sealth, plus the tennis courts that are replacements too. They needed to put back what they had removed when they built Denny on the site." That softball field was built in such a way so as to mimic nature. It was built on a hill which meant adding and compacting layers of soil to bring it to level. It has excellent drainage and a retaining wall to keep it in place.

"With the community input we heard regarding the teardown of the old building, some concerns were expressed about this site," Amore explained, pointing out the new playground gear put in by SPS. "The community wanted to be able to traverse across the site so they could get to Westwood Town Square. We tried to keep as many of the existing trees as possible, which I think adds to the charm. They were in the courtyards of the former building and along 30th Ave. All the trees were rated by an arborist, and I think only one exceptional tree was cut down in the process." They retained one native Madrona tree near the middle of the project and planted They retained one native Madrone tree near the middle of the project and planted thirteen 5 gallon Madrone trees though they are only about a foot tall right now..

The biggest challenge in the construction of the project Amore said was, the tightness of the schedule. "We went through GC/CM (General Contractor Contract Manager) process." That process brings the architect and general contractor together in a project's planning stage, to foster better teamwork.
It also meant that ideas on how the project might be made more efficient, better or accomplished more quickly could be shared and resulted in, "us being more nimble on site," Amore said. "This was about an 8 or 9 month job we did in 6 months," said Tim Waters of BN Builders.

There were questions about bathrooms on the site but, "If you look at it as part of the existing complex the bathrooms are at the community center or at the stadium for events," Amore said.

The entire site is ADA compatible with ramps and walkways, (wide enough for service vehicles too), and a picnic table with an open side.

The large field where the school once sat has recently been hydro seeded and in order for the grass to take hold, fences will remain up around it until the spring. That field however was left in a state where it could, if necessary accommodate the construction of a new school should the need arise. Other areas are sodded and are usable now. Planted areas are irrigated but the field will not be watered during the year.

The six tennis courts are asphalt now, lines are painted but this spring will be covered with a red and green acrylic coating.

"From the district's perspective I think we got a great contractor, great architect, good design and got it all done in the time frame we set," said Skutack.

Field use and reservation information can be obtained by calling the Parks Department at 206-684-4082 or using the Parks Department website:

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