Studio Meng Strazzara

Specialty: Architectural design, planning and engineering with focuses on K-12 and higher education facilities, commercial/retail projects, residential, childcare facilities

Management: Partners Eric Meng and Charles Strazzara; principals John Bennett and Dennis Erwood

Year founded: 1976

Headquarters: Seattle

Current projects: Design for the Daniel J. Evans Library modernization at Evergreen State College; design of the Harvard & Highland condo project by Admiralty Development Group; design of the Broadway on Broadway apartment/office/retail project by Sequoia Syndicate LLC

Photo courtesy of Studio Meng Strazzara
The first phase of improvements to the Daniel J. Evans Library at Evergreen State College included computer and communications space. Studio Meng Strazzara designed the modernization.

Time is money. And, because of the abundance of construction projects in the pipeline, it can take more time to get developments permitted in the Puget Sound region, said Dennis Erwood, a principal of Studio Meng Strazzara. With escalating building costs, it can “play havoc with your budgets.”

However, Erwood said he’s not pointing fingers at permitting agencies because the process can be slower due to their growing workload.

Rising costs of schools

In the last four of five months, Erwood has also seen bids for public school construction rising at a faster rate than private development costs. Because school projects entail more paperwork and process and require things such as paying prevailing wages, some contractors tend to choose private over public, he said. Also, because many subs are busy with other work, general contractors who do bid can be forced to “plug in a number” for subcontracting work, even though they don’t have a subcontracting bid in hand, Erwood said.

“They have to play it somewhat safe,” he said.

Smaller schools Erwood said there’s a trend to create smaller schools, break existing schools into small campuses or build high schools with mini-schools within them.

“The concept is that students learn better in smaller environments," he said.

In private development, Erwood said he is seeing an increase in mixed-use projects. Housing is even being placed in atypical areas, such as across from Seattle’s central library in the financial district, he said. Also, his firm is doing quite a bit of mixed-use work on Capitol Hill.

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