Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The School Bond: Insight into LWSD's "Principles" for building cost-efficient schools

The School Board approved the 2016 Bond measure last night. There's been quite a bit of chatter about how future LWSD school buildings will be designed to be cost effective.  In my opinion, the District has more work to do to be specific and transparent about  cost savings derived from "rebuilds" and "remodels".  For instance, what are the specific savings derived from the "rebuild" of Kirk Elementary?  As you will note below, the District currently relies on "Principles" to express "specific cost savings".  I'm an advocate for the Bond measure but I think we need better information.  
Partly as a result of this situation, newly formed "Education Hill Neighborhood Association" (EdHNA) will be hosting Eric Campbell as a Speaker for their EdHNA March 3 meeting.   Eric has been involved in much of the effort around cost-effective design principles -- as a school Task Force Member and Bond Committee Member.  He was the owner of Kirkland based Camwest Development which has since been sold. Special thanks to the LW Citizens Levy Committee for lining up Eric.

As noted, the Task Force and District centers their report of building design savings around 7 "Design Principles", as follows:

1.  Aesthetics:  Emphasis is placed on aesthetics that are "pleasing and fit with neighborhood context but not on design awards".  A "consideration" is made that "limiting aesthetics on non-frontage sides could impact the 'look and feel' of schools to both students and neighbors."  "Specific Cost Savings" are "dependent on specific project/implementation of design principles."  That's it.

2.  Stacking Buildings:  Stacking "eliminates or minimizes 1-story designs."  "Specific Cost Savings":  " A cost study showed 3% savings for 3-story over two story buildings."

3. Efficient and Simple Design:  Buildings may be "designed in a more compact manner ie. Boxed shaped..."  "Specific Cost Savings" are "dependent of specific design, estimated to be 2-3%."

4. Grouping Multiple Projects To The Extent Possible:  "to consider combining together using the same design team."  "Specific Cost Savings":  "Potential 3-4% savings if two similar projects could be combined."

5. Accountability To Design Teams:  "The benefit is any required deviations from standards are vetted and approved."  (Other benefits are listed.)  "Specific Cost Savings": are "dependent on specific project/implementation of design principles".

6. Standards:  One of the "benefits is consistency among schools (replacement or new)".  "Specific Cost Savings": are "dependent on specific project/implementation of design principles."

7. Photo-Parts:  involves "re-using portions of design concepts across projects."  "Specific Cost Savings": are "dependent on specific project/implementation of design principles."

I hope some of you can make it to the March 3 meeting to hear Eric Campbell.  There may be time for Q&A.  Please RSVP so we can set up enough seats.  School Board Director Siri Bleisner is scheduled to speak briefly at the February 4th meeting.

The complete 257 page Task Force Document can be found here.  The building design recommendations reported above are located in Appendix F, Pages 64-65. My report contains only portions of the 7 Principles. Special thanks to LWSD Communications Director Kathryn Reith for her assistance in finding Appendix F.  

Bob Yoder

From last night’s Board mtg – details each project, remodel vs rebuild assessments, school locations, etc. http://www.lwsd.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/About-Us/Study-Sessions/2016.01.25/Proposed-Bond-to-Reduce-Overcrowding-Enhance-Student-Learning-Environments-PPT.pdf

This is another great source of detail.  Talks about 2016 bond and those to follow.  Also details the design process improvements, etc.  http://www.lwsd.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/About-Us/Study-Sessions/2016.01.11/Proposed-Bond-to-Reduce-Overcrowding-and-Enhance-Student-Learning-Environments-PPT.pdf

Task Force Report – design principles begin on page 24

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