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Friday, September 29, 2023
Sept. 29, 2023

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Expansion slated for School for the Deaf in Vancouver

New building, turf field will take in account special needs of students

By , Columbian staff writer

The Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth — the Vancouver facility that houses the Washington School for the Deaf — submitted its multiphase construction proposal to the city of Vancouver on Wednesday.

If approved, the project would create a new building for academics and physical education, a renovated parking lot and drop-off area and turf field for outdoor athletics.

Construction on the next phase of development, the construction of a new 48,000-square-foot building, would begin in May 2023. The building would serve all K-12 grades, with a covered walkway connecting a one-story gymnasium with a two-story academic facility. A “green spine” of landscaping elements will be added as a buffer between parking and transportation loading zones and school facilities.

Skanska, the Portland-based construction company leading the project, is incorporating design elements tailor-made for American Sign Language speakers such as widened hallways, rounded corners and hallway alcoves for the extra space necessary for one-on-one motion-based communication.

An assembly at the school in March allowed for students to ask questions about the project and learn about how Skanska and its partners have spent recent months using drones to scan and photograph the campus. Conversations with students, the project manager said, helped designers get a better understanding for how this building project might differ from their other work due to the nuances of constructing spaces for those in the deaf and hard of hearing community.

The entire project is hoped to be completed by the start of the 2024-2025 school year.

Crews began on-site demolition and construction preparation as part of the first phase of the project earlier this spring.

Application documents show that architecture and construction firms leading the project have requested additional information on any remaining building permits or environmental analyses that may still need to be done. A review of the site and plan conducted by the city of Vancouver in April 2021 concluded that the phased campus updates presented no environmental concerns.

The city of Vancouver is scheduled to review the proposal at 9 a.m. on July 28.