ULab Progress

What progress has the ULab made since the groundbreaking?


Photo: UPrep (courtesy)

Rendering of completed ULab building.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new ULab building took place more than two months ago on March 4. This groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of a multiyear project slated to be finished in fall of 2023. But since the groundbreaking there have been holdups and other challenges.
Challenges started long before the groundbreaking in March, though.
“I would say the biggest challenge so far was obtaining the property and getting the master use permit on the property with the City of Seattle,” Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations Susan Lansverk said.
Part of the process of obtaining the property across the street includes applying for permits
“A school isn’t just allowed on any land. It has to go through what’s called an administrative use permit. That was a three year process to get that permit. And it was appealed. There was an appeal by the neighbors saying they don’t want us
to build over there. And so that whole process was very long and difficult,” said Lansverk.
Since the groundbreaking, there has not been much progress made on construction because the permitting process has been slow.
“Both the city and the county are way behind on issuing permits that should be taking a certain amount of time and have taken much longer. So our building permit took a long time,” Lansverk said.
Since this interview UPrep finalized and received the building permit, according to an all school email on May 12.
Even though major construction progress has not started yet, there has still been progress since the groundbreaking.
“There is some equipment over there, but we don’t want to bring the equipment until we have the permit because we start paying for it when it sits on the property. So as you can imagine, we’ve tried to keep it pretty minimal over there. So after we get the permit finalized, then we’ll mobilize the project which has a very detailed schedule of everything that happens,” Lansverk said.
Though construction has not started, very soon major progress will begin.
“There will be a lot of activity on the construction site,” project manager for the development of the ULab project, Joy Okazaki said in an email. “We will have to make up for nearly two months of delay in the construction schedule. There will also be a lot of visible construction on site. Demolition of the buildings will be exciting, followed by excavation for the foundation. This activity will require a large drill rig to dig the deep holes for the steel piles to be installed.”
After the foundation for the ULab is finished then the building can start taking shape.
“Over the summer we will start to see the building come out of the ground,” Okazaki said. “Once all of the foundation work is completed, the steel structure of the building will go up fast and we’ll be able to see the volume of the three story ULab building. Then we start working to “enclose” the building (hopefully before the rains return in the winter) meaning brick and metal panels on the walls, windows and roofing which should all be underway during the next school year!”