Bronze Award: Lincoln High School Tacoma, Wash.

August 11, 2010

Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., was built in 1913 and spent nearly a century morphing into a patchwork of outdated and confusing additions. A few years ago, the Tacoma School District picked Lincoln High School to be the first high school in the district to be part of its newly launched Small Learning Communities program, thus beginning a $74.2 million renovation of the 222,000-sf high school.
      
Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., was built in 1913 and spent nearly a century morphing into a patchwork of outdated and confusing additions. A few years ago, the Tacoma School District picked Lincoln High School, dubbed “Old Main,” to be the first high school in the district to be part of its newly launched Small Learning Communities program. The Building Team was given only 13 months to get the school ready to participate in the project.

Community members, administrators, students, teachers, and parents worked with architects from the Seattle office of DLR Group to reconfigure the high school for new academy-based educational delivery methods. The architects led them through extensive scenario planning, overlaying each educational program component over the building plans. 

  
Original stained glass skylights were restored and freed of decades of dirt and debris.
        
The north building addition contains classrooms, specialty learning environments, and the new Media Center. Repeating brick color and pattern, and closely matching the size and rhythm of the original windows, the new construction honors and supports the design intent of the original facility.
      
Classroom learning spaces are easily transformed based upon the need of the academy (top). Each Small Learning Community functions autonomously within the larger building and includes small group and teacher planning areas (above).
           
This process helped the community and school groups understand how various design options would affect educational delivery, and enabled them to zero in on the ideal adjacency, functionality, and organization.

The DLR plan divided the school into six zones (two zones in each wing, one on each floor) that would house six academies, each of which would function independently within the larger school building. Shared spaces were to include an auditorium, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, a library, and science labs.

Funding for the $74.2 million renovation came from a bond issue and a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As work got under way in fall 2006, the existing 222,000-sf, L-shaped school received a number of structural upgrades and nips and tucks. 

To address seismic concerns, 13 shear walls (using double-sided plywood) were installed, running from grade all the way up to the attic floors. An existing 1980s addition was demolished; in its place arose a two-story structure that expands the school to 264,000 sf and houses the new library and science labs. The addition also acts as a buttress to the existing school structure, providing added seismic support.

The school received all new plumbing and electrical systems, as well as new HVAC equipment that was installed in the attic. The Building Team specified aluminum equipment to diminish the weight load on the existing wood-frame structure. Insulation was beefed up to dampen equipment noise.

Despite all that’s new with the school, much of its historic character remains intact. The Collegiate Gothic-style school’s original details were restored or replicated; some were relocated and reused in the addition to connect old and new. Also left intact were the school’s 75- to 80-year-old, three-by-seven-foot operable windows, some with original stained glass windows of Tacoma milk glass, so called because of its milky white color.













         

Project Summary

Lincoln High School
Tacoma, Wash.

Building Team
Submitting firm:
DLR Group (architect, structural engineer)
Owner: Tacoma School District
Architectural consultant: TCF Architecture
General contractor: Lease Crutcher Lewis
Electrical engineer: Coffman Engineers
Mechanical engineer: Hargis Engineers

General Information
Area: 264,000 sf
Construction cost: $74.2 million
Construction time: August 2006 to September 2007