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Results of Joint Worksession on Construction of New W-L

The County Board and the School Board held a joint worksession this afternoon (Adobe required) to review several aspects of the design and construction of the new high school. This includes the "height" issue that was covered by a recent story in the Washington Post (see our May 7 "Growl") plus issues raised by the Planning and Transportation Commissions. The meeting opened with the school architect providing an opening briefing, which provided such basic information as the proposed school having 90,000 square feet more than the current school although the old and new schools will house the same 1,600 students. Other information in the briefing included an overview of the planning process, and included mention that two of the committees involved both chose "the most difficult design to phase," meaning the most expensive. The briefers also said they always knew that building height would be taller than permitted but expected it to be "ironed out" during the permit process. The architectural briefer said they had to "build higher so that the footprint could be smaller to create more open space." Why was that important? The answer was provided somewhat earlier when a briefer noted they wanted "to create the feel of open space as you drive by on Washington Boulevard." Are you getting the impression that fiscal restraint was not a requirement? Any hope of that was eliminated when the architectural briefer noted that they showed members of the school's building-level planning committee pictures that were "inspirational." More information about the replacement of Washington-Lee High School can be found at this Arlington Public Schools webpage.

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