Photography lesson

Students from the Washington School for the Deaf take courses in design and drones

With a major expansion project set to begin soon at the Washington School for the Deaf, design teams took the time to chat with faculty and students about how construction will unfold and what will change in their building.

At a town hall Monday morning, representatives from Skanska — an international development and construction company with a regional operation in Portland — showed middle and high school students a set of remote-controlled drones that were being used to map the property.

From the air, drones can take unique images of the building and measure new areas for the planned construction of Skanska. The project, which is expected to begin in the spring of 2023, will include a brand new school with a gymnasium, cafeteria and media center at the north end of the property.

Construction is expected to be completed in time for the 2024-25 school year. Upon completion, the remaining existing structure will be razed, making way for further landscaping.

With the help of some of the design experts involved in the construction, the students learned about different types of drones, including more advanced drones that are used for aerial landscape photography.

“It gives students a hands-on model of how Skanska works,” said school principal Shauna Bilyeu. “It was a great activity because our students are so visual. they don’t often have the opportunity to have experiences like this.

The students engaged with two types of drones at Monday’s assembly: smaller, contactless drones that are fun to play with and watch fly, and a more technologically advanced camera drone that is similar to this which is used in the design process.

Bilyeu wanted the lesson to not only be a fun way for students to learn about cutting-edge technology, but also to introduce younger students to the number of changes they would see as design and construction progressed. would begin in the coming months. The drones will continue to be used at different phases of construction to monitor progress and help workers complete the final design of the new school building.

“They did a great job making sure to include the students as we progressed through the design process,” Bilyeu said.

At school, several aspects of design are curated specifically for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

“We worked to incorporate elements based on the DeafSpace guidelines, which are a connection between the Deaf experience and the building itself,” said Alan Helleck, senior project manager in Skanska’s Portland office.

The company spoke to a number of deaf community consultants, he said, to find out how its approach might need to be different from previous projects – widened hallways, rounded corners, alcoves and swirls in the building facilitate movement-based communication. necessary for American Sign Language speakers.

“If you and I were walking down the street, we would be walking side by side,” Helleck said. “But those who speak ASL, obviously they need more space for that conversation.”

The project, although still in the early stages of design and conceptualization, opened Helleck’s eyes to several new building elements that he had not considered before.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be part of this project and help give back to this community,” said Helleck, a Vancouver native. “I worked on my ASL and took two courses. It’s an exaggeration to say that I’m bilingual, but I’m making progress.