The end of the school year is anything but typical at Bennett this year – at the farewell celebration for the 46-year-old building, community members will gather to reminisce about the school’s history, celebrate the present with one more recess and a kids vs. adults kickball game, and look to the future and the new school building that will be built over the upcoming year.
“The community is really excited,” Bennett Principal David Staight said. “The new building will meet the needs of not only current students but future students as well. It will be both a beautiful and a purposeful place to learn.”
The demolition of the school building will begin in July – the 13th elementary rebuild project in the district since the Capital Project Plan began in 2002. Construction of the new building will take place over the next year, with an estimated completion date of August 2017.
The new school will be an approximately 90,000 square foot, terraced three-story structure. Features of the new Bennett will include 22 classrooms, dedicated spaces for art and STEM instruction, four early learning classrooms, administrative and support staff offices, a library, cafeteria, gymnasium, and rooftop learning labs.
The rooftop learning labs will be similar to those at Cherry Crest, with patio and vegetation areas.
The new layout for the building will allow the majority of the mature wooded areas to remain to the south, east and north, as well as the relocation of the play areas and expand parking capacity, according to Director of Facilities and Operations Jack McLeod.
“The new school design will step up the hill and utilize more of the eastern half of the site,” McLeod explained. “This will allow the flatter western half of the site to provide play areas in the more secure north part of the site.”
The design plans, McLeod said, call for warm and natural materials and colors, as it was the desire of the district and community that the school matches the aesthetic of the neighborhood.
Staight said he is looking forward to, “Bringing the character of the Bennett community to life in the new building; blending the best of the past and the present with the hope of the future.”
One of the traditional elements of Bennett has been the school’s library, which has long been a focal point and gathering place. “When we think about the building, the library has always been the center of the school,” Staight said. “We’ve taken the library from the ground floor to the top floor, and the design makes it a beacon for the neighborhood.”
A mural at the school by its namesake, Richard Bennett, will be preserved. The school property was formerly a farm on which Bennett was raised before becoming an artist and illustrating over 200 children’s books. The school opened in 1970 as part of the Lake Washington School District and was annexed into the Bellevue School District in 1976.
During the construction year, the student body will be housed at the Bellewood site, near Sammamish High School.
To learn more about the district’s capital construction projects, please visit the facilities department page.