Gwen Davis
The public meeting on the new school planned for Genesee Hill focused on the 3-D scale plans that have been prepared for the construction. BLRB Architects said that plans are proceeding smoothly.

Schmitz Park Elementary design hits “big milestone”

By Gwen Davis

BLRB architects reported to roughly 15 neighbors Wednesday evening that plans for the new Schmitz Park Elementary at Genesee Hill were soundly underway, with 3D full-scale diagrams. Principal architect for the project, Lee Fenton told the West Seattle Herald he’s pleased with how the process is going, and that after this current schematic design stage, BLRB will get a cost-estimate for the plans.

“It’s been great working on one of the first projects in a program that got approved by voters,” he said.
Architects announced they hit a big milestone.

“We’re right on schedule, are making great progress and are looking forward to taking the next step of the design process, which will be a more detailed design, and begin to do detailed cost estimates.”
“We’ll also get construction documents compared, too.”

Architects have gone into neighbors’ homes to determine how the new building would affect the views of those home owners.

“We’ve been invited in their houses to talk with them about what’s important to them,” regarding different views and sunlight.

Public feedback for this project has been prolific.

“We have been working with the school design advisory for a number of months,” he said. ”We’ve had several meetings with community and neighborhood groups already, and this meeting will be a continued dialogue update.”

Neighbors voiced their concerns.

“I want to know how they’ll deal with the termination of their property and our property,” said Eric Maurer, a neighbor. “Will they put in a wall, a walkway or a fence? Just curious how they’ll deal with that.”
Maurer said he’d prefer a walkway, such as what exists currently, but is afraid architects will plan for other options.
But Fenton said the plans for the strip will remain similar to how they are now.

The presentation screen slides were more detailed than during past meetings.

“This would be a view of a main entrance,” Fenton said as he showed the new 3D, full-scale diagram. “Holly, this is what the school would look like from your house,” he addressed a neighbor, showing approximately what the view from her house would be.

“There will be a zero-net effect on your property line,” he said.

“You’re going to see the building, no doubt, but the two-story building will be minimal.”
Neighbors had other concerns.

“You got traffic on SW Dakota St that wasn’t designed for it,” a neighbor said, regarding the proposed drop-off location.

“What about the demolition of current structures?” another neighbor asked. There will be several existing structures that will be removed.

However, architects couldn’t say at the time when the demolitions would happen.

Participants talked about the popular green roof idea for the top of one of the buildings.
But architects indicated green roofs were expensive and the school district would most likely want a more cost-efficient roof.

However, the roof will still be aesthetically friendly. There will not be any viewable equipment on the roof, which not only will make it more pleasant to the eye, but will be fiscally prudent since such equipment needs long-term and costly maintenance.
They also discussed the proposed rain garden where rain would get filtered by a type of floor in the parking lot before it makes its way to the sewer.

Other key issues that were discussed in previous meetings including (according to the Genesee Schmitz Neighborhood Council):

Restoration of the larger learning commons spaces due to increased sharing among pods of restrooms, workspaces and storage spaces; a more efficient gym layout; repositioning of the lower building to allow for more light in the north-side classrooms; one of the two bridges and the walkway to the gym will being re-roofed but not fully enclosed; a PTA room move to the near front entrance; added chair storage for commons; and reductions in child care space.

BLRB has a total of 36 staff and has its main office in Tacoma.

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