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May 12, 2022

Bellingham Schools wants to move quickly on $40M staff office building

Journal Construction Editor

Images courtesy RMC Architects [enlarge]
The building’s design includes lots of clerestory windows.

The main floor has community gathering spaces.

Administrative staff with Bellingham School District have worked since the 1970s inside the aging Roeder Elementary School at 1306 Dupont St. in Bellingham. This school was built in 1908 and has had few improvements over the years.

That's about to change, as the school district plans to break ground next month on a new $40 million office building that about 100 employees will call home.

The district wants to move this project along quickly, and is seeking contractor bids until May 24. In its bid advertisement, the district says: “Time is of the essence for this project. Bidders and sub-bidders should be prepared to take whatever action is necessary to complete the work in a timely manner, including but not limited to working overtime hours, all within the contract sum and at no additional cost to the owner. Bidders and sub-bidders who are not prepared to take such actions to timely complete the project should not bid this project.”

DJC records indicate the estimated maximum construction cost is $27 million.

The new 53,520-square-foot office will be built on a vacate site at 1885 Barkley Blvd. that the district bought in October 2019 for $2.1 million. It's in the Barkley Village neighborhood and has room for future expansion. In addition to offices, the new building will have a childcare center, family resource center, and meeting spaces to support community events and professional development. The district estimates a fall or winter 2023 opening date.

A past presentation by the district indicated it could save over $1 million by building new versus remodeling the current building. It cited no relocation costs with building new and unknown costs associated with renovation work. The district says the existing building is not seismically reinforced, and the roof and floors aren't tied to the walls. It also says all mechanical systems are at the end of their useful lives, the basement floods, the building isn't ADA accessible and parking is limited.

RMC Architects of Bellingham is leading the project design team. Others on the team are: The Walker Group NW, space planning and interior design; TFWB Engineers, electrical; GeoEngineers, geotechnical; Metrix Engineers, mechanical; DCI Engineers, structural; Pacific Survey & Engineering, land surveying; Freeland & Associates, civil; Weisman Design Group, landscape; BRC Acoustics, acoustics; JLR Design Group, food service; and DCW Cost Management, cost estimating.

A school district spokesperson says the district is looking at options for the existing 47,715-square-foot building, including continuing to use it, but will most likely sell the property after the new building opens.


Benjamin Minnick can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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