Lakeside School reopens renovated Bliss Hall

Seattle - Lease Crutcher Lewis has completed a $5.44 million renovation and seismic upgrade of The Lakeside School’s Bliss Hall.  The project was completed in 10 months, one day ahead of schedule and under the final budget of $5.485 million. 

Timing and logistics were key challenges as work occurred during the school year with hundreds of students on campus. The work was completed in time for graduation which is held annually on the lawn in front of Bliss Hall.

Built in 1930, the four-story, 20,102 square foot building is the original academic building on campus. 

The architects, LMN, focused on creating lighter spaces and installing modern utilities, while preserving the classic character of the structure. One of the primary challenges of the project was the seismic reinforcement and safety of the 80+ year old historic structure. After considering different approaches that included computer modeling of the phases of construction, two new sheer wall footings were constructed using 620,000 pounds of concrete and 44,000 pounds of rebar. 

A complete replacement of the heating system was one of the key upgrades to the building. Instead of using steam piped in from across campus that ran to clanky old radiators, Bliss Hall now receives heat through a natural gas powered boiler heating system. Not only can each classroom be individually controlled, but the school’s entire heating and ventilation system can now be optimized to provide the most efficient performance possible. 

There were other “green” updates, such as the installation of two fully automated heat recovery ventilators to provide fresh air intake to the building. According to Project Manager John Crichton, “the genius of this system is that at the same time that fresh air is being pulled into the building, the warm exhaust or stale air is passing simultaneously through the ventilator across a heat exchanger, drawing heat from the exhaust air and using it to temper the incoming fresh air. This is especially important in the cooler months because the preheated outside air reduces the amount of energy required by the heating system to maintain the building’s heat—and, the preheating process is essentially free.” 

In addition, many of the materials were recycled and reused and local building materials were used to reduce transportation costs and impact. New daylight sensors and motion detectors allow for better use of natural light in the classrooms. The beautiful double-hung windows were refurbished and fully weather-stripped. Toilets are low-flow and dual-flush, and automatic sensor-controlled sink faucets use water flow to recharge their own batteries. 

Due to interest in the project from alumni, staff, students, and neighbors, Doug Maxfield, project superintendent, gave more than 40 tours as people were fascinated with old wall coverings and graphics, the inner workings of the bell tower, and the school’s architectural history. 

The project’s success is due to the strong coordination efforts of Dan Dawkins, Lakeside Facilities Director, and leadership of Debi Hudacek with The Seneca Group. “This is a very successful project. Bliss Hall is absolutely beautiful and I am looking forward to our next project on the science and math complex this summer,” said Dan Dawkins. Lewis has been hired for the next campus renewal project at Allen-Gates Hall which will include new classrooms, a second chemistry lab, and an elevator.


About Our Firms

Lease Crutcher Lewis has been a leading Northwest general contractor since 1886, and has been based in Seattle since 1939.  Lewis is active in numerous project types, including biotech, medical, office, education, retail, hotel, historic renovation, and others.  Common threads for its work include an integrated approach to working with customers and design partners, a focus on optimal use of technologies such as BIM, and performing a large percentage of its work with its own craftspeople.  

LMN provides comprehensive planning and design services to create higher education facilities, convention centers, cultural arts venues, commercial and mixed-use developments, interiors, and urban plans that celebrate and enrich communities. The firm is widely recognized for distinctive, integrated design solutions that are highly responsive to specific social, cultural, economic and environmental influences. For more information, visit