School is first tsunami-proof structure in North America

In January 2015, Ocosta School District students, staff, parents and community members celebrated the groundbreaking for the first tsunami-resistant school in North America. The district is located in Westport, Washington, a town situated in a tsunami hazard zone at the mouth of Grays Harbor on the Olympic Peninsula.

Earthquake experts believe a tsunami could reach Ocosta Elementary School as quickly as 20 minutes following a major earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. That fact, coupled with the need to replace a 45-year-old elementary building, provided the catalyst for local voters to approve a $14 million capital facilities bond in 2013 to fund the new building.

The new school will feature a “vertical evacuation structure” that can withstand the extreme wave heights and repeated surges of water created by a tsunami. The 30-foot tall facility will serve as the school’s gymnasium and double as a safe haven in the event of a tsunami. The building’s rooftop platform will be built to support 1,000 students, staff and residents.

ESD 112’s Construction Services Group (CSG) is providing Project Management, Construction Management, Constructability Review, Commissioning, and (FF&E) Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment logistic services for the project.

“It is a privilege to be a part of this groundbreaking project and I’m looking forward to the grand opening in 2016,” said Doug Nichols, Director, Facilities Planning.