Story and Photos By NANCY COVERT
A library that resembles a treehouse?
Just so, according to John Boatman, Hill International, (formerly KJM of Bellevue), senior project manager for the new Pioneer Middle School currently in progress at DuPont/Northwest Landing.
With 5-1/2 months remaining to complete the project‚Äîwhich is “on time,” according to Boatman‚Äîhundreds of Steilacoom Historical School District Middle School students, teachers and their parents are eagerly awaiting Opening Day. Completion of the $23,686,000 project, which measures 106,000 sq. ft., marks the second new school the District has built in the DuPont/Northwest Landing community.
Among the amenities in the new school are a large gymnasium, science and math classrooms in each of the three “wings,” a choral/band/performing arts area. There’s also the second-floor library, with angles and reading nooks that, Boatman says, whose design creates a “tree house.”
That “tree house” feeling is something with which former Pioneer Middle School (originally Steilacoom School) students can identify. Just ask any of the school’s grads, and you’re likely to tap into a repository of fond memories about the landmark school that’s stood on the hill above the Town since 1916. For more than half a century, that second-floor library has held a special place in those memories.
Since 1916, when the structure was “the” only school in town, the school library, with its impressive view of the Sound, has been the setting for countless school/community programs.
For area residents who have been watching the school’s progress during the past 12 months, there will be an opportunity in April to tour a “mock” classroom, as the final touches are put on the rest of the project, Boatman says. (Watch for details about the Tours).
DLR Group of Seattle, which early on received a national award for the school’s design, created the library with lots of angles that resembles a backyard tree house
The new building, double in size from the present middle school, will receive approximately $50,000 infusion of new library books and other library materials for the new structure
Construction on the new school began February 2007, and is scheduled to be finished by July 31, 2008, in time for the start of the 2008-09 school year.
At this writing, plans were getting underway for the formal Closing of Old Pioneer School and Opening of the new facility. Relocation of the School Bell is scheduled to be part of that event.
Although an official date for a grand opening had yet to be set, (possibly in early September, according to Boatman) SHSD’s middle school students will begin the year at the new facility at the end of August.
With the project’s completion looming on the horizon, Boatman says and since things are getting “ramped up” he plans on being on site 100% of the time, “from June through the end of project.”
According to Boatman, the timeline for the school’s completion includes
‚Ä¢ Landscaping that will be in place by May
‚Ä¢ Finishing the restroom project on the sports field
‚Ä¢ Widening adjacent sidewalks, relocation of existing five streetlights and the addition of more streetlights.
‚Ä¢ Completion of a solar system design theme that will serve to “connect” school areas.
‚Ä¢ Ordering furniture (desks, chairs, computers, etc.) for classrooms, administrative offices, library, and cafeteria. Also on order are computers for lab, administrators, classroom projectors and document cameras
Boatman said that the District will spend about $750,000 on new furniture. He was working to ensure the order was placed by the end of February in order to guarantee delivery by August.
Having worked on more than 22 new schools and over 35 school additions and modernization projects during the past 16 years, he says that the Steilacoom project has been the most interesting; “because of the design and focus on education.”
Boatman’s early construction experience in school construction also included building golf facilities, but he says he finds more personal fulfillment from school projects. Before coming to work on the Pioneer Project, Boatman managed a four-year, $102 million ($165 million at today’s standards) construction project of an educational campus in Coachella, CA. That campus, located approx. 40 miles SE of Palm Springs, was designed to accommodate 5,800 K-12 students.
From his “command center” at the District, as he reviews the contract documents and other ongoing construction issues once more, Boatman predicts that it’s possible that the additional street lights for Bob’s Hollow and other on-going construction issues “could eat up the reserve in remaining change order funds and prevent there from being additional leftover to put into other school projects.”
It’s possible that the project could use as much as $100,000 in remaining changes for the street light issue.
To view progress on the Middle School site, Visit SHSD website at www.steilacoom.k12.wa.us and access the construction link.
Throughout the process, Boatman adds, the project has remained “accident free.”
Babbit-Neuman Construction Company of Steilacoom is the general contractor on this project.