Stewart MS opens six months early on March 13

2/10/2017 | TACOMA, Washington

Early completion of the Stewart Middle School modernization project means students get to end their cross-town commute to the old Hunt Middle School – affectionately referred to as “Camp Hunt” – and move into their new digs six months early. 

The historic Stewart, 5010 Pacific Ave., reopens to students on Monday, March 13. Staff and students have been at the Hunt transition site since September 2015.

While the newly modernized building is ready to occupy, completion of the track and field will continue over the next few months. The school will host a grand opening celebration later this spring. 

“We’re excited to bring our Stewart family home and reconnect with our community,” said Stewart Principal Zeek Edmond. “While our staff and students have been amazing during our transition time at Camp Hunt, we all will love getting home again. Believe me, I’ve had a sneak peek.”

While severe weather events and competition for construction labor and supplies have caused delays for construction projects around the region, Tacoma Public Schools reports that other factors worked in their favor.

“I’m thrilled to be able to announce this early opening for the South and East Tacoma communities,” said Rob Sawatzky, Director of Tacoma Public Schools Planning and Construction. "Historic remodels are challenging and rewarding projects, but Skanska was able to work efficiently to bring the project in early.” Modernizing an existing building also meant the project wasn’t as impacted by the recent steel shortage or weather impacts on moisture-sensitive soils.

Sawatzky also points out that the Stewart project used a contracting model that brings on the contractor early in the process to work alongside the architect during the design phase. This process, called General Contractor/Contract Management (GC/CM), is different than the standard process that has the architect complete the design before going out to bid for who will manage construction. School districts use the GC/CM approach on projects that require early involvement by the general contractor in order to be successful, such as with historic remodels like Stewart.

“We have to thank Tacoma voters for their support of schools like Stewart,” said Sawatzky. “Back in 2012 when the district was evaluating schools to include in the ballot issue, Stewart—essentially the same building as originally built in 1924—was a poster child for a school so deteriorated that it interfered with student learning. Today, Stewart supports achievement.”

About the project

Stewart is one of 14 schools being remodeled or replaced thanks to a $500 million bond voters approved in 2013. The historic modernization includes preservation of historic features, demolition of a 1970s addition to make room for a gymnasium and student courtyard, window replacements, seismic upgrades, conversion of the large central auditorium into a multi-use spaces, and the construction of two flexible spaces that teachers can adapt for specific needs. The Stewart community garden will also return.

Square footage: 125,000

Student capacity: 750

Budget projection: $66 million

Architect: Bassetti Architects

Contractor: Skanska USA