Core Design Team
Firm: Bassetti Architects
DAN MILES AIA, ASSOC. DBIA: PRINCIPAL IN CHARGE
MARK SMEDLEY AIA, LEED AP BD+C: PROJECT MANAGER
MICHELLE YATES AIA, LEED AP BD+C: ARCHITECT
LINDSAY CRAWFORD AIA: ARCHITECT
ALAN DODSON AIA: ARCHITECT
PRESTON MOSSING: DESIGNER
HUNG-NAN CHEN AIA: TECHNICAL ARCHITECT
ELAINE DANIELSON LEED GREEN ASSOC.: EXPERIENTIAL GRAPHICS
AMANDA HOEHN IIDA, LEED AP: INTERIORS LEAD
KRISTIAN KICINSKI AIA, LEED AP BD+C: SUSTAINABILITY LEAD
OWNER/CLIENT: HIGHLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
CONTRACTOR: SKANSKA USA
LANDSCAPE: AHBL, INC.
CIVIL: SITEWISE DESIGN PLLC
ELECTRICAL: HARGIS ENGINEERS INC.
MECHANICAL: METRIX ENGINEERS
STRUCTURAL: PCS STRUCTURAL SOLUTIONS
COST CONSULTANT: ROBINSON COMPANY
FOOD SERVICE: JLR DESIGN GROUP
THEATRE PLANNING: PLA DESIGNS INC.
A Modern School Celebrating its History
Three powerful concepts shaped the new Highline High School – community engagement, project-based learning, and contextual place-based design. Both the vision and the outcomes of the new school stemmed from discussions with the community. Public input launched the project through a district-wide examination of facility needs and bond strategies. A community-based Visioning Workshop set overarching goals along with learning objectives and strategies to accomplish the goals. Finally, the school-based Design Review Committee (DRC) outlined Guiding Principles that ultimately led to the design of the school. At each step, careful listening, earnest communication, and synthesized responses were used to gather community input and develop a school that focuses on the needs and aspirations of Highline students and their families. The District Strategic Plan includes the following promise: EVERY STUDENT in Highline Public Schools is known by name, strength and need and graduates prepared for the future they choose. Highline is a school that celebrates learning by doing. Project-Based Learning (PBL) studios are distributed throughout the campus to provide both hands-on and traditional academic learning paths for every student. The school is organized into small-scale clusters, or learning communities, to enhance safety, collaboration, and rigor focused on the goal of student achievement. General classrooms, seminar rooms, teacher planning area, small classrooms, and dedicated science labs are clustered around a smaller learning commons. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are distributed adjacent to each of the learning pods. As part of the design theme of “Romancing the Trades” (a term coined by the DRC members) the CTE spaces are placed strategically to provide visibility from the building exterior and the commons. These highly visible locations also promote the display of student work.
Approximately 3.5 miles from the Seattle-Tacoma airport, the new Highline High School resides in a community known for its multitude of parks, Puget Sound waterfront, Lake Burien, and views of Mount Rainier on a clear day. Thus, in addition to preserving the legacy of Highline High School, the stakeholders wanted the school to have a park-like feel aiding connections to the adjacent stadium and playfields, while creating safe, secure access for students. Coordination with Burien Parks & Recreation led to shared spaces for the Parks’ before and after school programs, including a meeting space, storage, and office space. Noise mitigation was a priority given the proximity to the Airport and Highway 509 just west of the campus. The layout of the school grew from a comprehensive response to place. A central spine housing the commons and library doubles as the main circulation path that unites the disparate program elements of the school. The grand two-story hub, clad in wood and bathed in warm light, embraces students and community alike. The angled space (focused on views to Mt Rainier) connects the neo-classical civic entry on the north to the more informal southeast entry opening onto a vibrant student plaza. A west facing courtyard, accessible off the commons and several of the learning communities, compliments the assemblage with a more learning focused outdoor space. Originally constructed between 1923 and 1928, old Highline High School’s presence became a beacon within the community acknowledging the importance of education. The district recognized the historic significance of the original school and was committed to either retaining the historic north façade or recalling its significance in the design of the new school. Following extensive evaluation of original construction, soil conditions, seismic stabilization strategies, shoring and piling methodologies, and costs, the decision was made to demolish the historic façade, salvage the primary historic terra cotta and brick portal, and rebuild the neo-classical entry to honor the heritage of the original school. In addition to the adaptive re-use of architectural elements, the design/construction team was able to salvage and relocate the historic stained glass “Pirate Window” in the entry vestibule – a nod to the school’s mascot. Additional elements salvaged included a portion of the original gymnasium floor with the school’s Pirate mascot. This is now proudly displayed on the wall of the new gymnasium. Terra Cotta busts depicting key historic figures from the north entry wall were salvaged but have not found a new home for display to date. A handrail installed at the base of the new learning stair comes from the original building interior entrance stair. Interior and experiential graphic design concepts were inspired by the DRC who suggested a multi-cultural marketplace theme.
As visitors navigate the school they are greeted by the colors and patterns one might see in a market. Earthy tones found in the graphics, paint, carpet, wall panels, casework, and tile mimic the natural dyes one might find in custom fabrics or mounds of spices. Tying it all together, yellow and purple school colors are integrated throughout to instill a sense of Highline Pirate pride. The new Highline High School maximized sustainability opportunities where available. The commons structural system utilizes timber framing with glue-laminated columns and beams; wood decking, and purlins for a biophilic approach to structure that reduces embodied carbon. Visible storm water collection and storage systems model responsible sustainable management practices and landscaping was selected to enhance native, drought tolerant ecosystems. Community influence shaped Highline High School from start to finish. Without clear communication and transparency, public funds for the new school would not have been available. Without embracing project-based learning and pride in career and technical pathways as well as academic learning, the school would have ignored the socio-economic core of the community. Without embracing student heritage, the project would have missed the rich diversity that informed graphics and signage. Without recognizing historic significance, the design would have lost the deep cultural continuity that builds pride of place. The design of the new Highline High School signals welcome to all. From the formal neoclassical entry to the north, the robust student plaza to the south, or the protected courtyard entry to the west, Highline welcomes all comers – young or old, questioning, or confident, new immigrant or long-time resident. Massing, materiality, and layout of the building present a range of visages that welcome the diverse community.