Birney Elementary School Replacement

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News & Updates

​Turner Construction to build new Birney Elementary

The Tacoma School Board selected Turner Construction to replace the existing Birney Elementary. You may already know of some of Turner’s projects in the region, including the renovated University of Washington’s Husky Stadium, CenturyLink Field & Exhibition Center, and the aquarium still under construction at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

Birney—smaller in scale than those projects—will make a large community impact. McGranahan Architects’ design of the school strives to build a strong support network around students by designing a building that welcomes families and community. The new Birney can serve as a community center when school is not in session. McGranahan has placed the library, cafeteria, gym and stage on one side of the building to more easily accommodate the public.

Birney will continue to serve as a regional deaf and hard of hearing center.  The new design will incorporate elements important to the success of these students, including visual notification systems, high-level acoustics and transparency to help with visual communication.

New building details
The new Birney can accommodate 550 students (including preschoolers) in its 60,000 square feet. The building replaces all of the existing structures and portables, which total to about the same size. The new one-story building will stand on the west border of the 8.68-acre property, with its main entrance moving from South 76th Street to South Sheridan Avenue.

Four classroom wings connect to the learning commons, with the wings organized so classrooms can expand into a flexible shared learning space as well as to the adjacent courtyards.

Outdoor play areas, including a synthetic field, will sit on the north end of the property.

Birney students will remain in the existing building during construction— expected to start in June. The new school is scheduled to open in fall 2019, after which the district will hire a contractor to demolish the old building.

Coming up at Birney
Birney families and staff, mark your calendar to learn more about the new building.

  • Thursday, May 3, 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Get a look at the new design, ask the architect questions and get general project information

About the Project

Project Overview

Birney Elementary is home to three Deaf and Hard of Hearing Programs for preschool through fifth grade. Birney also offers a special education program and HeadStart preschool. Birney currently serves approximately 470 students in Tacoma's South End. The current building was built in 1962, with the addition of a gymnasium and resource room in 1972.

Students will remain on site during construction. 

Take a look at McGranahan's January 2018 Presentation, which details what the new Birney will offer. 

Student capacity: 450-500 students
Projected budget: $30 million   
Architect: McGranahan Architects  
Design: September 2016 - March 2018  
Contractor: Turner Construction
Construction: June 2018 - August 2019 
Expected opening: Fall 2019

This project is funded by the $500 million school construction bond voters passed in 2013.

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While construction doesn't begin until summer 2018, we know many people will have questions now. Email your ideas and questions to

News & Updates

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