Architect chosen for new high school

By Ian Ferguson

The Blaine school district will enter into contract negotiations with Zervas Group, the Bellingham-based architects chosen to design the new $45 million capital improvement project on the Blaine campus.

The school board approved Zervas at a special board meeting March 30 after a three-week search. The district advertised a request for qualifications in Bellingham and Seattle newspapers in early March, and seven firms responded with submissions by the March 19 deadline.

Project manager Jim Kenoyer, superintendent Ron Spanjer and director of finance and operations Amber Porter reviewed the submissions, interviewed the firms and checked with references. They evaluated whether each firm had the resources and experience to take on the task, how it would handle particulars such as costs and scheduling and the relationships it had with engineering firms and local contractors.

After the review, two firms stood out: Zervas and Everett-based Dykeman.

“Both firms put out terrific submittals, and both would have been well qualified, but we decided Zervas would be the best fit for our project,” Kenoyer said.

One of the reasons Zervas stood out was its focus on keeping the cost of materials and supplies low, resulting in a lower price per square foot, Kenoyer said. Zervas designed and built Meridian High School at a cost of $217 per square foot, which was lower than similar projects from other firms and below the budget of $240 per square foot for the Blaine project.

Zervas also stood out by explaining specifically how the firm would manage the unique challenges of the project. For example, the project will require careful planning to minimize disruptions to the students, who will continue to use the campus during construction.

“Zervas provided better specifics about the nuts-and-bolts of the project,” Kenoyer said.

Contract negotiations with the firm will begin on Thursday, April 2. The $45 million Blaine school district capital improvement project will rebuild Blaine High School, add to the primary school for newly mandated all-day, everyday kindergarten and complete much-needed upgrades and maintenance on the campus. In February, voters in Blaine school district approved a $45 million bond to pay for the project.

The school board hired Kenoyer as the construction project manager for the capital improvement project at its March 24 meeting. Kenoyer was the school district’s facilities supervisor for 22 years until his retirement in 2014. He oversaw several major construction projects, including construction of the science building in 2013.

The first phase of the project will be the construction of an addition to Blaine Primary School. Pending contract negotiations, the permitting process and contractor bids, construction at the primary school is scheduled to begin in September, with high school construction to occur in subsequent phases.

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