The Queen Anne Elementary gym floor sets as the space is readied for heavy use. The Queen Anne Elementary addition was initially approved as a gym project, but expanded to include eight new classrooms, a new and expanded administration office.
The Queen Anne Elementary gym floor sets as the space is readied for heavy use. The Queen Anne Elementary addition was initially approved as a gym project, but expanded to include eight new classrooms, a new and expanded administration office.

Queen Anne Elementary will open its doors this fall in an almost unrecognizable learning environment for its students.

After spending last year on the John Marshall campus during construction, students will arrive on the improved Queen Anne Elementary campus, 411 Boston St., and find some significant changes to the facility’s brick building.

The project was finished by its Aug. 25 deadline and met its $13.2 million budget. The overall project included 20,000 new square feet and 6,000 square feet of renovations.

“Queen Anne Elementary now has eight additional classrooms, full-size gym, expanded cafeteria, new school office, larger playground and one of the first dedicated elementary visual arts/makerspace in Washington state,” writes QAE principal Janine Roy in an email to Queen Anne News.

The addition is the first new construction on the campus since the 1922 masonry building was constructed; a structure that was supposed to complement the original 1904 school building.

Vincent Gonzales, Seattle Public Schools capital planning project manager, said the initial levy described the project as a gymnasium addition. He said that since they were cleared to add a gym, they also decided to get the addition of the classrooms and other spaces approved for the project.

He said the gym addition will be the greatest boon for the students.

“They didn’t have a gym, so they were using the former covered play area…” Gonzales said. “Just for elementary school in general, kids really need a gym. It’s kind of hard to believe that this many years went by and they didn’t really have anything…. I think that when the kids come through that door and they see the gym, especially the ones that were here before… I think they are going to be blown away.”

Another space that Queen Anne Elementary officials are excited about is the multipurpose room, which can be divided into at least two learning spaces. It is located in the former covered play area space, now replaced by the gym.

The area truly is multipurpose, as it can also be used for additional lunchroom seating should the need arise.

“Also, as (Roy’s) enrollment increases, because the lunchroom was increased in size, physically, she can also move some of her lunchroom tables in there and have two areas of dining, once she gets up to a capacity of 500…” Gonzales said. “That would be the goal, that this school could house 500 students between this building, the addition and then the wood building.”

The space comes fully equipped to handle 3D printing, which the school administration wishes to use with its students, in addition to the technology needed to run the classrooms.

“The amount of technology that we have put in to support the teachers now…” Gonzalez said. “It’s going to be great because they will be able to do so much more in these modern spaces.”

Roy writes that all the new space comes together to support the education of her students, which is what these projects are all about.

“Additional space allows opportunities for teachers to continue innovative teaching practices to help our global citizens and environmental stewards develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through research-based language arts, math and science curricula,” according to Roy. “We can expand our unique Option School initiatives, including Project-Based Learning and social emotional learning.”

The addition may provide additional learning and recreational spaces, but the 1904 and 1922 buildings did not interact with each other in an efficient or safe way, said project architect David Dahl.

“One of the major challenges on the site was that they were not planned together and they (faced) in different directions,” Dahl said. “So, operating as one school campus has always been a challenge with buildings facing different directions. Part of our goal in designing the addition was to create a central entrance and a central gathering point for the entire school that kind of brought everyone together and organized the site a lot better.”

That centralized gathering point became an outdoor courtyard for students and parents to congregate. A new entrance was added to the 1922 building, which corrected the nearly century-old blunder. This entry has a spacious administration office, with windows that offer a view of the 1904 wood building’s entrance across the courtyard.

The courtyard also boasts a playground and outdoor seating.

“One thing that we noticed is that after parents drop their kids off, they do tend to congregate in the middle of the play area,” Gonzales said. “So, we took that into consideration that this community seems to be one that, they let their kids go to school but they do like to make connections and talk to each other, the parents and stuff. I think that courtyard with the seated walls and the planters and also having the playground… it gives the community an opportunity to gather and make connections.”

The new centralized administration office is also a point of security for the 1922 brick building, Dahl said. One goal for the project was creating a more secure entry to the brick building during school hours.

“(We designed) one entrance of the school rather than having multiple entrances scattered around and focusing visitors who come during school hours to the main entrance where they will have to check in with someone at reception before they can get into the rest of the school site,” Dahl said. “Also, giving that new admin space visibility to the playground and to the wood building — essentially to see as much of the site.”

The city came by the campus on July 26 to do its inspection and, according to Gonzales, cleared Queen Anne Elementary for occupancy, with a couple housekeeping tasks for the team to complete. The inspection was not for the building’s general occupancy, as that had already been granted for the 1922 building; it was to ensure that all new development on the building met codes.

The new development has a string of features that add to the building’s sustainability moving forward. The structure now sports some double-paned windows for comfort, but also to save on the energy it takes to heat such a large building.

Dahl said the heating system is quite sophisticated.

“The new addition was built to more modern standards,” he said. “Included in that is the heat-recovery wheel — part of the ventilation system that takes exhaust air from the building, extracts the heat from it and uses that to heat intake air without actually mixing the air together.”

Ted Maines, project superintendent for the general contractor, said he took the project from its cradle to its grave, structurally speaking. He said the project has been especially rewarding, because of all the connections he has been able to make. From the craft-worker up through the school district officials and their stakeholders, he said, Maines was able to establish lasting business relationships.

He also said it was great being able to hold conversations with his kids about the work that he does on a subject that they can understand.

“Having kids who are in elementary school, being able to bring my work home and discuss it with my kids was really exciting,” Maines said.

Roy writes the new facilities will help Queen Anne Elementary stay viable for scores of kids to come.

“Class sizes will continue to align with Seattle Public Schools and Washington state requirements,” her email states. “Our new construction allows Queen Anne Elementary to welcome additional children and families to our school community.”

The school will have an open house 10:30-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3.