Expert advisory committee reviews school building projects to ensure efficiency, save money

Community volunteers are lending their expertise to help the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) create and build quality school designs that reduce costs without compromising quality. The group was part of a recommendation of the Long-Term Facilities Planning Task Force, a community-based group that advised the district on how to handle its growing enrollment and aging schools.

In its 2015 report, the task force recommended that LWSD appoint a small expert advisory group to review design and construction of funded projects. A Design and Construction Advisory Committee was formed last spring. It has met seven times over the past year to review current projects at several stages in the design process.

“The purpose of the advisory committee is to provide expert industry advice on new school design and construction to ensure alignment with district design standards and the district’s goal of making school buildings and sites effective and efficient in design, construction and operation,” said Forrest Miller, director of support services. “That means we can create innovative learning environments at a lower cost.”

“By making a series of recommendations based on the industry expertise of advisory committee members, we can contribute to savings of several million dollars here and there,” said Eric Campbell, Main Street Property Group and a committee member. “It adds up.”

Advisory committee members have asked questions and suggested possible changes to designs. They have asked district staff to analyze costs of various approaches to the work. Examples include: simplify a building form, reconsider traffic routing and consider various alternative materials and lighting. The committee was very supportive of the idea to phase construction of the rebuild and enlarge of Juanita High School. This change in process will allow the project to be completed one year early and significantly reduce temporary classroom costs.

All projects reviewed by the committee are part of “Building on Success.” That’s the district’s plan to build schools and to provide quality learning environments. It is based on a set of recommendations from a community-based Long-Term Facilities Planning Task Force. An April 2016 bond measure, which funds the first in a series of bonds to fund project in that plan.

To learn more about the Design and Construction Advisory Committee, see a short video on the district’s YouTube page. (

The Design and Construction Advisory Committee:

Eric Campbell – Main Street Property Group: residential developer, Long Term Facilities Planning Task Force member and Bond Advisory Committee member.

Gid Palmer – Microsoft Real Estate and Facilities: commercial construction manager for Microsoft, former general contractor. 30-plus years experience.

Jay Halleran – Lease Crutcher Lewis, executive vice president: commercial architect. Retired managing partner, NBBJ. Thirty-six years of experience in the design profession on all project types.

Lee Kilcup – GLY Construction. Commercial general contractor. Retired president. Forty years of experience in commercial general contracting in the greater Seattle market.

Dale Cote – LWSD. Director of School Support for the Juanita Learning Community. Thirty years of experience as an educator, principal and administrator.

2016 bond projects:

New middle school – Redmond Ridge

New elementary school – North Redmond

New elementary school – Redmond Ridge East

Juanita High School

Peter Kirk Elementary School

Margaret Mead Elementary School

Explorer Community School

Old Redmond School House