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Conceptual Design for a New Mount Si High School

On June 25, the Snoqualmie Valley School Board approved the conceptual design for a new Mount Si High School as recommended by the High School Design Team. This recommendation was the result of several months of work to develop a new school design that will best meet the needs of all Snoqualmie Valley students and the community for many years to come.

Option A concept design site plan over property footrpint
Views of Mount Si and the surrounding mountain range are a focal point of the design
and will be seen throughout the building.

The Design Concept:
The Design Team evaluated a number of school design options using key goals/criteria that were developed based on feedback from the visioning team, community input via Thoughtexchange, visits to newer large high schools in the area, and the team's in-depth discussions. These goals/criteria included: provide the best long-term solution; reduce construction disruption; support the freshman campus program and other small learning communities (SLC's); create a strong sense of community within the school (town center) and for the District; engage with the natural environment and views; and be flexible.

The key benefits of the approved design, as noted by the Design Team, are:
  • Reduced disruption from construction through reduced phasing.
  • Earlier completion of the building. 
  • Great division/use of small learning communities. (This includes a separate area to serve freshmen, retaining the benefits of the Freshman Campus concept on the main campus.)
  • Clear access to and separation of community use areas (gym and performing arts center). 
  • Centrally-located commons (cafeteria) spaces with great views.
  • Flexibility for future expansion, if needed.
Option A 3D view from entrance
This three-dimensional rendering shows the design from the front of the school. The
gym entrance is pictured at the lower left corner; the entrance to performing arts center
(PAC) is at the center, and the main entrance to the school is in the lower right corner).
There will also be an entrance at the freshman building, located on the east end of the campus.

“The conceptual design of the new Mount Si High School was breathtaking. The work done by the design committee and NAC Architecture showed tremendous creativity linked with careful consideration of all of the requirements of an outstanding high school,” said Geoff Doy, School Board President. “They produced a concept that will showcase all the natural beauty of our Valley and offer our students the very best educational experience possible. Mount Si High School will be the envy of every school district in Washington.”
 
See more images of the approved design below.

Anticipated Construction Timeline:
The approved design will require less construction time than previously anticipated. Compared to five years of phased construction being considered for preliminary design plans, it is estimated that this design can be completed in about three years of construction. (The time savings comes from identifying a design option that eliminates the need for “phased” building —which would have involved students and staff moving out of one area, to allow for demolishing one portion and rebuilding a new structure, then relocating to occupy the new part, while the next “phase” takes place to rebuild another area.) By building the new high school where the front parking lot and baseball fields currently are (rather than on the school’s current footprint), students will continue to be served in the main building during most of the construction—which will significantly reduce disruption for students and staff. 
 
Construction of the approved design will start in spring of 2017, with 90% of the building completed by fall of 2019. At that time, grades 10-12 will move into the new facility (from the old building) at the same time that the freshmen will move into the new Freshman Campus. During the course of the following school year 2019-2020, most of the old building would be demolished (with the exception of the gym, stadium and track which will remain), and work will continue to renovate and expand the gym, and create new parking areas and baseball fields on the west side of the property.

This plan allows for the Freshman Campus to be converted back into a middle school by the fall of 2019, which is consistent with earlier timing estimates for reinstating a third middle school. The transition from two to three middle schools will alleviate anticipated crowding for grades 6-8 across the District.

The process:
The final conceptual design was the result of a thorough process, facilitated by NAC Architecture working closely with a High School Design Team, from March through June, 2015. The Design Team was comprised of 35-40 committed individuals including high school staff members representing a broad range of academic subjects and interests, PTSA presidents from every school, student representatives from 8th/9th/10th/11th grade levels, district administrators, architects and school construction experts. The group began the process by building upon the priorities developed by the High School Educational Visioning Process (October to February), and visiting other schools to see how different design concepts are working in other local school districts. The Design Team met about every two weeks to provide feedback on multiple school design concepts presented by the architects. The team worked to incorporate priorities that emerged from the Thoughtexchange engagement process (March/April) which solicited ideas for the high school design from staff, students, parents and community members. There were also several meetings to engage the Mount Si High School staff, along with architect interviews with various departments to understand specific program needs. The Design Team used this information to evaluate the designs, and provide guidance to the architects on how to refine each concept.

By their June 3 meeting, the Design Team had narrowed their options to three design concepts. Then on June 19, after NAC Architecture had worked on further modifications to address key suggestions and remaining concerns, the group came together with strong support for the final recommendation — known as Option A.

Option A emerged as top conceptual design
In selecting a final conceptual design, the Design Team rated each of the final three options
against the goals/criteria referenced above. Option A emerging as the preferred design concept.

HS Design Team "thumbs up"
The High School Design Team gave an enthusiastic “thumbs up” vote upon choosing Option A
as the final high school design concept.

“I want to thank all who served on the Mount Si High School Design Committee, for the time and energy they devoted to this important process over the past five months. The Board and I are extremely impressed with their thoughtful recommendation and especially appreciate the care and creativity they used to develop a plan that will be less disruptive to student learning and significantly shorten the construction timeline,” said Superintendent Joel Aune. “We eagerly look forward to the next phase in the process as the design for Mount Si High School continues to take shape.”

Next steps:
With Board approval of the conceptual design, NAC Architecture will now continue to work through the summer and into next fall on the next design phase--the Schematic Design. This phase looks more closely at details that contribute to the function of the building, such as adding windows, addressing program needs, locating classrooms, etc. The Design Team will meet again in late August, followed by more staff meetings and an update to the community in the fall.

More images of the conceptual design:
Explore a variety of sketches below of the new design concept for Mount Si High School.

sketch of Option A point to Mtn views    1st floor design
 2nd floor design  3rd floor design
 Possible future addition, if needed  Another future addition option, if needed
 Commons to be designed as a student-centered "Town Center"
 View from inside the entry looking toward the performing arts center lobby
 View from inside the entry  View from inside a common with Mt. Si View
 Concept design of front entrance. Yellow part is the media center/library.  Filling in some design details still to come - of front view
 Front view of MSHS, as the concept design  Front view with potential design details added
 Another angle from front of school  3-D sketch from the side of the freshman learning center

Additional resources:

Facility Planning & Construction webpages