Skanska-Mithun team using DeafSpace design guidelines on Vancouver project

A design-build team led by Skanska and Mithun is quickly learning that there’s more to an upcoming expansion for the state Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth than meets the eye. The new center will be built on the campus of the Washington School for the Deaf, at 611 Grand Blvd. in Vancouver.

To help understand the users’ point of view, some members of the team have learned sign language and also educated themselves on the details of the DeafSpace Design Guide.

DeafSpace outlines five principles and elements for designers: space and proximity; mobility and proximity; acoustics; sensory reach; and light and color. This can include wider hallways and sidewalks, and modifications to revolving doors, glass corners and U-shaped seating areas that allow for visual communication. More space allows for students to be able to stand far enough apart to look at each other and sign.

Skanska says some of the DeafSpace elements that will likely be used for the project include lighting that reduces glare and floor areas designed to better transmit vibration.

CDHY serves over 120 students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. The project team involved small student groups for input on designs. Students used color-coded blocks to design their school, merging classrooms, a library, gym and other elements into a cohesive map.

The project includes a 48,000-square-foot building with new academic and physical education space, as well as a media center. The parking lot will be renovated.

Skanska reports the project is in the construction document phase and building permits will be sought later this month, followed by the start of construction in early June. Officials hope to have the center open for the 2024-25 school year.

The state is using a progressive design-build approach on the project. As part of this, Skanska and Mithun have brought on several early design-assist trade partners to help with design. They include JH Kelly (mechanical, electrical and plumbing), Western Partitions (framing, drywall and ceilings), Coffman Excavation, Southtown Glass, TT&L Sheet Metal, Dennis 7 Dees Landscaping and Anderson Roofing. PCS Structural Solutions is the structural engineer.

Skanska will self-perform concrete, steel and mass timber construction.


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