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McGilvra Elementary students spent the last school year eating lunch in their classrooms due to ongoing construction. This year they’re dining inside a new cafeteria that will double as a multipurpose room.

The $4 million project was funded by the Building Excellence (BEX) IV levy, which voters approved by more than 70 percent in 2013.

“This is one of the last BEX IV projects that is completing now,” said project manager Vince Gonzales with Seattle Public Schools.

A school design advisory team formed three years ago to weigh in on the project, and construction started in late July 2017.

One challenge was creating a modern building that complemented the landmarked school building without mirroring too closely, said Sara Wilder, project manager and architect with Integrus Architecture.

The former kitchen and dining spaces at McGilvra Elementary were small, Gonzales said, and the dining space eventually had to be converted to classrooms when portables were removed for construction of the new cafeteria/multipurpose room.

“They were served lunches in their classrooms last year,” he said.

The new cafeteria is equipped for audio and visual, so it can be used for school assemblies or by the PTA for meetings. It was designed with space that could also be used for before- and after-school programs, Gonzales said.

A green building that adheres to the Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol, the cafeteria includes LED lights, bioretention areas, and could later have solar panels on the roof should the school district wish to do so at a later date, Wilder said. Pervious concrete was also added in front of the cafeteria, to absorb rainwater, and replaces old asphalt.

In response to concerns from neighbors about noise, the mechanical penthouse is enclosed, Gonzales said, adding it’s also to the benefit of the facility.

Integrus has also helped SPS with developing updated building standards for the next facilities levy. It has ongoing schools projects in Shoreline, Fife, Bellevue and Ingraham High School here in Seattle, among others.

Wilder said Integrus designed around an exceptional tree on the west side of the building, which resulted in a covered patio that she envisions could be used as a break area for staff.

Rolling doors provide quick access in and out of the cafeteria, Wilder said. Students are used to eating outside, Gonzales said, and the large bays also make it easier to roll tables outside. Automatic shades can be used to dim the room.

Gonzales said expanded bike parking was added between the cafeteria and McGilvra’s old gym, which does not meet current standards for physical education and will likely be tapped for replacement in a future facilities levy.

The PTA and McGilvra Elementary plan to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new cafeteria and multipurpose room on Tuesday, Sept. 4.