Renton unveils new middle school designs

August 1, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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The Renton School District and NAC Architecture released initial designs for a future middle school in Newcastle at a July 18 open house, giving locals a first glance at the plans for a two-story building.

The school will occupy the 11-acre site of the Renton Academy, next to Hazelwood Elementary School. Middle school sites normally sit on a space of about 15 acres, so it was up to the architects to get creative with the design, said Steve Shiver, the project manager with NAC Architecture, based in Seattle.

“I think the largest challenge we have is the size of the site,” he said. “We had to design a building that was as compact as possible.”

NAC Architecture Initial designs for the middle school’s main entry show the architect’s vision of transparency, utilizing glass to allow natural sunlight.

NAC Architecture
Initial designs for the middle school’s main entry show the architect’s vision of transparency, utilizing glass to allow natural sunlight.

The result was a two-story building with upper mezzanines and a central common area. Most importantly, however, the construction of the new middle school will not affect the popular east baseball fields.

“The most commonly asked question that we had today was what are we going to do with the fields,” Shiver said. “People were excited to know that the existing fields will remain and will be improved as part of the project.”

A major feature of the school will be its transparency, complete with windows in every classroom, Shiver said.

“Virtually every occupied room in the building has views to the exterior,” he said. “There are no interior classrooms.”

Instead of walls, the school will utilize a lot of glass, providing clear sightlines for students and staff.

“That improves security and reduces bullying in the building because staff can observe the circulation corridor areas in the building from within the classroom,” Shiver said.

The district’s fourth middle school comes at an important time, given that Renton’s middle schools are among the largest in the state.

On the web

Look at more photos of NAC Architecture’s specification designs on the Newcastle News Facebook page here: http://on.fb.me/136dIkd

Enrollment at McKnight, Nelsen and Dimmitt middle schools were well above Washington’s state average of 609 students in 2011. McKnight and Nelsen each had more than 1,000 students, while Dimmitt had about 950 for the 2011-2012 school year.

“They’re overcrowded to the point where the district isn’t able to deliver the middle school curriculum that we want to, so when this school opens, everything evens out,” said Stewart Shusterman, the district’s facilities project manager.

Councilman Gordon Bisset was one of two Newcastle City Council members who attended the open house, and while he said he appreciated the design, he had concerns about the increased traffic the school will cause.

“I just have questions about how we’re going to handle the traffic and make sure that Newcastle Way functions,” he said.

Councilwoman Carol Simpson, who was part of the steering committee that offered input into the schematic designs, said it was about time that the city got its own middle school.

“To have the students right here in our community and be so close to home, is just going to make Newcastle the family place that we enjoy,” she said.

The schematic designs are just the first step in the design process, offering a general picture of the floor plan and area. NAC Architecture will now delve into the design development phase, which adds significantly more detail, accounting for furniture, finishes and classroom equipment.

Demolition of Renton Academy is set to begin in June 2014, while construction will start in March 2015. The middle school is slated to open in fall 2016.

The $46 million project was made possible thanks to voter support of an April 2012 bond measure. The $97 million bond measure will fund the school, improvements to the Lindbergh High School pool and other construction costs.

 

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Comments

4 Responses to “Renton unveils new middle school designs”

  1. Renton unveils more middle school designs : Newcastle News – News , Sports, Classifieds in Newcastle, WA on October 1st, 2013 12:46 pm

    […] Renton School District last met with the Newcastle community about the school at a July 18 open house showcasing NAC Architecture’s specification design […]

  2. Renton to unveil new middle school designs Dec. 5 : Newcastle News – News , Sports, Classifieds in Newcastle, WA on November 23rd, 2013 2:00 pm

    […] Renton School District last met with the Newcastle community about the school at a July 18 open house showcasing NAC Architecture’s specification design […]

  3. Reminder: Renton will unveil new school designs Dec. 5 : Newcastle News – News , Sports, Classifieds in Newcastle, WA on December 3rd, 2013 3:03 pm

    […] Renton School District last met with the Newcastle community about the school at a July 18 open house showcasing NAC Architecture’s specification design […]

  4. larry goldman on July 7th, 2014 5:35 pm

    I live across the street from on the Bellevue side of Newcastle way . i would like to know what plan they have for the road construction . I heard they have plans to build a cement wall along my property line and remove all the trees in same area ?Larry Goldman 11801 se 68th pl Bellevue WA 98008

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