Tahoma School District unveils concept designs for new school

Concept designs for the new Tahoma High School show a compact approach (above) and an open concept design approach (below). - Courtesy image
Concept designs for the new Tahoma High School show a compact approach (above) and an open concept design approach (below).
— image credit: Courtesy image

The Tahoma School District showed the community the first conceptual designs for the new Tahoma High School at community meetings on Jan. 22 and 23.

Architects from DLR Group, which is designing the school, presented two concepts and fielded questions and comments from community members. District administrators were also on hand to answer questions.

While conceptual drawings were displayed, they were for the purpose of illustrating the two concepts, not definitive plans for what the school will look like.

The school will be located on the property known as the Donut Hole in Maple Valley. The Donut Hole is 154 acres of unincorporated land within the urban growth boundary off Kent-Kangley Road Southeast and Southeast 228th Street that is entirely surrounded by the city of Maple Valley and home to nine holes of Elk Run Golf Course, a stand of trees and the county’s 13-acre roads maintenance facility. King County owns the property.

The city is in the process of annexing the property and the school district is in the process of finalizing the purchase of some of the acreage from King County for the new school.

One of the concepts — which has been termed Barking Dog because the outline of the school in the artwork vaguely resembles a barking dog — is a more open concept, with a school that would spread out across the property. The other concept — called Pomegranate to evoke the idea of looking simple on the outside but being unexpected on the inside — is a more compact school that isn’t as spread out.

Lisa Johnson, from DLR Group, explained the guiding principles of the school’s design which include flexibility of use and longevity of the building, community, security and safety, personalized to meet the needs of students, relevant learning spaces and sustainability.

Plans are for the school to be three stories tall. Other details about the look and design of the school will be coming in the future.

Factors in the siting of the school on the piece of property include the site’s topography, location of utilities on the site and the presence of power lines along one edge of the property.

Patterson said in an interview Jan. 27 the district leadership had reviewed studies, including one by the World Health Organization, that didn’t find conclusive health risks from being close to power lines like those running alongside the property, and also said the district is still working to locate the school as far from the power lines as possible.

When it comes to safety, Patterson said that the district is exploring its options, including looking to other schools to see what they have done and what has worked and what hasn’t.

The district is also including the Summit Park and Ballfields property the city owns that is adjacent to the high school site in its conceptual designs, which show ballfields on the property. The vision, Patterson said, is for the fields to be developed jointly to benefit both the school and the community.

Access to the new school is being planned from state Route 169, behind Goodwill, by building a road to connect through to the high school, and is also planning a secondary entrance.

Superintendent Mike Maryanski presented to the Maple Valley City Council on Monday night, updating the council on the school district’s planning and design of the site.

Patterson said that feedback he has heard is more in favor of the Pomegranate, compact school, that would allow for shorter travel times across the school for students than a long, spread out building.

The estimated groundbreaking for the school is spring of 2015.

“We’re building a 50-year building,” Patterson said. “That’s a challenge — to build a building that remains contemporary for 50 years.”


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