Whatcom Middle School Replacement

  • Location Bellingham, WA
  • Client Dykeman Architects
  • Owner Bellingham Public Schools
  • From Fire to New in 2

    In 2 quick years, a unique historic school is rebuilt.

  • An Early Homecoming

    580 students return to school 1 year early.

Waste Not Thy Hour. After a fire destroyed Whatcom Middle School, Bellingham Public Schools needed to promptly return its 580 students back to their home school. Engraved above the school’s iconic main entry, “Waste Not Thy Hour” was the project slogan and constant reminder that the aggressive schedule allowed no time to be squandered. Rebuilding the school was like carving a jack-o-lantern; builders created a new structural shell over the historic structure, carved out the interior structural system, built a new steel structure inside, then completed the architectural aspects. Reid Middleton civil and structural engineers designed the project in segments, so the contractors could begin building while other areas of the school were being designed. Building Information Modeling was used to create a model of the original building and the new replacement building. This model allowed the design team to coordinate their design around the complex geometry of the undefined existing structure. Additionally, the BIM allowed structural design flexibility to accommodate the fast-paced construction changes and rapidly-evolving architectural design. The collaborative effort between all the designers, builders, and stakeholders allowed the school to reopen one year ahead of schedule.