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Concrete Community Award

Photo courtesy of WACA
Contractors used shotcrete to reproduce the original appearance of Whatcom Middle School after it was destroyed by a fire.

Whatcom Middle School

Location: Bellingham

Owner/developer: Bellingham School District

Project team: Dawson Construction, general contractor; Dykeman, architect; Reid Middleton, structural engineer; Dawson Construction, Air Placed Concrete Specialists, Turnstone Construction, Custer Concrete & Construction; Quimby’s Concrete, concrete contractors; Ferndale Ready Mix & Gravel, ready-mix supplier

The Bellingham School District decided to rebuild Whatcom Middle School after the 100,000-square-foot building was badly damaged by a fire in 2009.

The district sought to keep the century-old school’s original appearance, build a modern interior, and join the outbuildings that had been added on over the years.

Project participants pulled together to have the school up and running again within 22 months of the fire.

The team decided to reproduce the exterior design by placing molds around the existing reinforced walls and using shotcrete to build a new wall in the exact appearance of the old wall.

Using this method, an estimated three months of production time was saved. It also allowed for the complete reconstruction of the school’s 30,000 square feet of walls without anyone recognizing that the core building was entirely reconstructed.

The intricate tooling of the shotcrete created natural-looking stonework full of details and features that closely matched the stonework of the original building. The cornices, archways and outcroppings throughout the exterior envelope were carefully crafted to retain the original architectural features.

A majority of the ready-mix concrete supplied throughout the interior was placed with an integral color.

Construction time was shortened after large areas of concrete flooring were placed, immediately providing other construction trades access for interior construction and finishing.

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