Saturday, November 03, 2007

BetterBricks Award is conceptual

There will be lengthy discussions in the coming weeks and months regarding the manner in which schools are constructed. However, one reader in particular voiced genuine concern about something they read recently. The District recently received a "BetterBricks" award for 2007. At first blush, anyone would be proud to show such an award to their counterparts in other districts but a closer evaluation of the real issue is definitely warranted.

Over the last several years, the District, like many other school districts across the country, has made a habit of building overly-extravagant schools that put elements of form above function. While all of these features and embellishments may look good on paper, the District will no doubt be expending untold millions retro-fitting the building to an operational standard after construction.

While the walls of architectural firms will be adorned with the casualties of public funds like the heads of game in a hunter's lodge, the chattering of teeth inside the new Lynnwood High School may prevent any real education from taking place.

I hope the concepts lauded by the BetterBricks award work out for the District, but perhaps others may claim it constitutes gambling with public money.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In social studies classes, we try to teach the students to understand that there are different points of view to most questions. I, like many, have had my doubts about some architectural features that I see in new buildings and remodels.

Without planning to do so, I had the surprise opportunity to talk with a school architect. Without knowing that I was connected to Edmonds, he offered Edmonds-Woodway as an example of a point he wanted to make. The "clocktower" actually hides a good deal of the HVAC equipment for the building. (I do not argue here that the HVAC equipment is or isn't up to the task; that's not the point.) The advantage to this design is that it gets the HVAC equipment off the roof of the building, which reduces the cost of the roof because you don't have to support tons of HVAC equipment and you don't have to design the roof like a bath tub to catch the water produced by the equipment. It also places a system that notoriously causes roof leaks (weight, odd angles to roofing covers, constant production of water) someplace other than the roof. He even threw out some cost-saving figures, which I have since forgotten.

I love it when I hear something new, that goes against what I think, and still makes sense.