New Thornton Creek Elementary School Design Kick-off Meeting. A Recap.

More than 50 neighbors listening in on the presentation.

On Thursday, June 27th, over 50 neighbors piled into the Thornton Creek Elementary School common space for a community meeting held by the Seattle School District and their design team on the New Thornton Creek Building.  The purpose of the community meeting was to explain the project scope and process, answer questions, allow time for public comment, and get feedback from the community regarding very conceptual design ideas for the new campus and school building.

The meeting was largely run by the project design team, consisting of Heery International providing construction management and Mahlum Architects providing design services.  Both Heery and Mahlum have exceptional expertise in design and construction of educational facilities and campuses and the project manager with Heery, Ian Kell, was also the project manager for the recently completed renovation of Nathan Hale High School.

While my notes of the meeting aren’t thorough, here are some of the key highlights that I took away from their presentation.  The formal presentation part of the community meeting is provided below.

  • The project budget is just under $43 million, 30% of which is “soft costs” that include furniture, equipment, text books, etc.
  • The new building will be either a 3-up (490 seats) or 4-up (660 seats). 3-up and 4-up means 3 or 4 classes per grade, respectively.  No decision has been made yet on the final size.
  • The existing Decatur school building will remain although there’s no known program or use for the building at this point.
  • The project schedule has the new building opening in 2015 and the District will be going through both the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process and a Master Use Permit process, both processes require a public comment period.
  • The District is committed to making improvements at the Eckstein Middle School and View Ridge Elementary School grass playfields to help offset some of the displaced team sports that currently use the Thornton Creek playfields.
  • The design team has already held 6 meeting with the School Design Advisory Team (SDAT), comprised of educators, staff, and community members.
  • The SDAT has identified several Ed-Spec goals and site goals to help guide the design of the new school building and campus.
  • The design team has come up with 11 conceptual site studies, although they presented only 4 representative versions for community feedback.


Following the presentation, the District fielded questions from the audience and then allowed for some public comment period.  I attempted to “live tweet” this part of the meeting although my smart phone’s battery didn’t prove to be up to the whole task.  However, here is a selection of Q’s and A’s so far as I was able to capture them with my untrained thumbs.

About 10 people took part in the public comment period, which began with Louisa Rose.  Louisa is a neighbor of the school, is part of the Wedgwood Open Space Neighborhood Coalition, and is also on the SDAT.  Prior to the meeting, she had gathered information and ideas from many concerned neighbors through the Wedgwood NextDoor site and shared their concerns.  The battery on my phone just managed to get through Louisa’s comment period.

Attendees mingling around, talking to the design team, and selecting their preferred site concept.

Following the comment period, the design team gave each person who came a dot sticker to place on their favorite conceptual site study of the 4 presented. Two of the concepts featured a new school located at the northwest corner of the site with different building configurations, a 3rd concept had the site at the south end of the site, and the last concept had the new building on the edge along 40th Ave NE.

The four concept site studies are shown below (Click to expand them or refer to the presentation above).  PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE ARE NOT ANY WHERE CLOSE TO A FORMAL DESIGN, THEY’RE JUST FOR BRINGING UP DISCUSSION POINTS AND GETTING AT DESIGN ASPECTS THAT THE COMMUNITY VALUES.  SO, PLEASE DON’T THINK THAT ANY OF THESE ARE WHAT ARE GOING TO BE PROPOSED.

4 thoughts on “New Thornton Creek Elementary School Design Kick-off Meeting. A Recap.

  1. Opening is projected for 2016, not 2015. Construction will take place during 2015 and 2016 until the opening in September do16.

  2. Thank you, Per for the very thorough review/recap. I was not able to attend the meeting, but feel my anxiety level drop a bit…..thanks for sharing the concept drawings!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *