Project Q+A: Enumclaw High School Modernization and Addition

With an emphasis on community and collaboration, the modernization of Enumclaw High School provides students a state-of-the-art facility that they can be proud of.

We conducted a Q+A with Civil Associate Principal Keith Kruger to meet the new Enumclaw High School.

Q: Hi Keith! To begin, can you give us an overview? What were the district’s hopes for the renovated campus?

Keith: Enumclaw High School is incredibly important to the district and surrounding community. The school serves 1,400 students from Enumclaw and Black Diamond, as well as local unincorporated regions of King County.

The vision for the multi-phased modernization and 25-classroom addition was to create a more cohesive, secure, and modern campus that could better serve not only the students, but the community as well.

Q: Can you explain the overall plan for the campus?

Keith: Absolutely. Put simply, the design replaced multiple one-story buildings with a 143,000-square-foot, two-story structure on the south side of the campus. This new structure replaced aging classrooms, the library, science labs, music room, auditorium, and gymnasium. This structure was then connected with the remodeled commons, offices, and art and automotive wing (which was remodeled in 2000).

Q: You mentioned “multi-phased,” can you expand on why that was important?

Keith: In order to maintain occupancy throughout construction, and not interfere too much with student life, we worked with the design team to break construction into two major phases. The two-year schedule prioritized separation of construction and school zones and involved housing students in a combination of portables and areas of the building not under construction.

Our civil team was instrumental in ensuring that this ran smoothly by maintaining the utility services required for each phase in a cost-efficient and safe manner throughout each phase of construction. Most of the new infrastructure was designed to span both construction phases, although some systems had to be temporary to keep existing buildings online through the next construction phase

Q: Sounds like a ton of coordination went into this project. Did you run into any major site issues?

Keith: What fun would it be if there weren’t!? Considering the campus has been evolving since the 1960’s, we assumed there would be some below-the-surface surprises. Once we broke ground, we found quite a few utilities that were either routed in the completely wrong direction or missing. Our team spent a lot of time reviewing drawings with the school district to understand how the renewed campus could better be served. It’s also important to note that the site is an extremely flat one with only five to six feet of elevation change, making drainage more difficult. Couple that with groundwater located only five to six feet below grade, and separate water and sewer connections for each building, and we had our work cut out for us!

With these challenges in mind, we coordinated with our structural team and other project team members to carve out enough space to create an interesting connection between the building exterior and courtyard using the stormwater system. We also coordinated with the landscape architect to tackle the “duck pond,” which in addition to being a prominent water feature, is a fully functioning stormwater detention system. We had to be strategic about how stormwater was going to flow on site (surface flow), so we incorporated a raingarden into the new bus drop-off area. This kept the stormwater treatment very close to its source, allowing us to maximize what little elevation we had to work with, and reduce the cost of storm piping.

As challenging as the high groundwater was, we were actually able to use it to our advantage. Through negotiations with the City of Enumclaw, we modeled the existing site with higher stormwater runoff values than typical developments. Our design resulted in a smaller detention pond than if the site had ‘normal’ groundwater.

Q: Coughlin Porter Lundeen was also the structural engineer. What were some of the structural challenges?

Keith: Enumclaw proved to be a complicated project, with extraordinary coordination efforts and time spent designing the two-story, wood-framed classroom wings. Right off the bat, the district knew that they wanted to use wood, so our structural team took traditional serviceability requirements and integrated them with residential wood framing concepts. In other words, they took a framing system traditionally used for multifamily construction and applied it to a school, which is very unique.

A non-orthogonal wood lateral system was utilized for the two independent classroom wings, called learning neighborhoods. Repetitive joist framing minimizes vibration and an acoustical mat overlaid with gypcrete on the second floor limits sound transference. Every truss was modeled to assist with MEP system routing and frequent clash detection checks lessened issues during construction.

The renovation also required meticulous placement of seismic joints and strengthening of existing masonry shear walls with concrete shear walls and complex struts to tie the structures together. Each integration point of the structure was different, requiring multiple solutions.

Q: Any final thoughts about this project?

Keith: It’s crazy to compare the “before” photos with how beautiful the campus looks now. Although complicated, this was an extremely rewarding project and the design and construction teams hit it out of the park. A testament to our teamwork, the campus was completed ahead of schedule!

I think this is a project that we’ll continuously look back on and be proud of. By bringing the entire student body into a unified building, we were able to help foster a sense of community that the district so badly yearned for, and what could be better than that?

Project Team:
Architect & Electrical Engineer: NAC
Owner: Enumclaw School District 
General Contractor: FORMA Construction

Mechanical Engineer: Hargis Engineers
Landscape Designer: Weisman Design Group

Images © Benjamin Benschneider All Rights Reserved.