Foam meets function: SMS gets new room in final year as middle school
By CAROL LADWIG
Snoqualmie Valley Record Staff Reporter
August 3, 2012 · 2:02 PM
Tons of dirt, concrete and debris were scooped out of the center of Snoqualmie Middle School this summer, the start of a major remodel. Over the next few weeks, construction crews will finish the floor and add a roof structure to what used to be a central courtyard at the school.
School starts Wednesday, Aug. 29, in the Snoqualmie Valley School District, so builders are hurrying to complete the most disruptive work before classes begin.
“If it’s not done by the start of school, we’ll do it after classes,” said David Huffman, the school district’s project architect.
The $2 million project is the first phase of renovations planned to convert SMS into a freshman campus of Mount Si High School by the fall of 2013. Kassel & Associates won the contract for the courtyard work with a low bid of $1.2 million. Other components of the renovation, to be completed next summer, are the conversion of the wood shop into classrooms and labs supporting a proposed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum for the freshman campus and upgrades to the locker rooms.
On a recent Thursday morning, a small crew of workers had nearly completed installing the “fill” layer for the floor, huge blocks of dense expanded polystyrene foam, or EPS, called Geo-Foam. The white foam blocks, some more than 3 feet thick, were cut and pieced together to create most of the sub-floor in the hexagonal courtyard area. Workers used chainsaws to cut the foam, and someone had stood an oddly-cut block on top of another for a piece of temporary art.
The foam is not just for fun, though. Hoffman explained that the material is lightweight, and will have far less impact on the soil layers than several tons of fill would, especially when combined with the steel roof supports for an 18-foot ceiling.
Clint Marsh, project manager, noted that EPS is often used in building freeway overpasses for the same reason.
Once the foam is all in place, it will be waterproofed, then covered with a five-inch concrete subfloor. Business Services Director Ryan Stokes expected the concrete work to be done on Friday, Aug. 3, regardless of weather. The concrete to be used will cure even in wet conditions.
Roof work will begin the following week. The ceiling, when complete, will be similar to the open beam structure in the high school’s Wildcat Court, and will add 6,000 square feet of useable space to the school.
“It will be comparable to Twin Falls in terms of space,” Stokes said.
Since it will remain one large open space, the courtyard will be most useful during the school’s three lunch periods, which have been packing roughly 150 students each into about 3,000 square feet of space.
The courtyard, with a capacity 350 to 400 students, will also be useful for classroom work, says Stokes. “Last year, for some of the classes, like the science labs, they worked in the hallways,” he said. Next year, they could use the new courtyard space, free of interruption.
Most of the existing doors and windows into the courtyard will stay in place, with the exception of several windows to be replaced by a roll-up door, allowing a high volume of people to walk through, and a projection screen on one wall. Stokes said the space will be more useable to the community, as well, since the school would be able host community meetings, or student assemblies.
“This totally changes the character of the building,” said Huffman.
Funds for this remodel are coming from a 2009 bond, in which voters approved $3.1 million for renovations at the middle school. Some of those renovations were put off because the district soon began consideration of annexing the school as a freshman campus, and didn’t want to spend the funds then when different improvements might be needed before 2013.
• Learn more about Snoqualmie Middle School at http://sms.svsd410.org/
Contact Snoqualmie Valley Record Staff Reporter Carol Ladwig at firstname.lastname@example.org.