Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - elementary schools

Designers: TCF Architecture, PLLC (firm); Brian Fitzgerald (architect); Brian Ho (architect)

Dates: constructed 2014-2016

2580 South Montesano Street
Westport, WA 98595

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This elementary school served inhabitants of Westport, WA, located on a peninsula of land that formed the southern mouth of Grays Harbor. This spit of land had the potential for being overwhelmed by a tsunami if a quake occurred off shore. On 04/13/2013, residents agreed to pass a $13.8 million bond issue that would fund the construction of a combined new elementary school and tsunami shelter.

Building History

The Ocosta Elementary School #2 had 23 classrooms, a dining area/food service kitchen, administrative offices and other spaces. In the process of construction, a nearby 1980s-era building was incorporated into the plan to add a new classroom wing.

Grays Harbor County officials also determined to make this elementary school a tsunami refuge for about 1,000 people, the "first vertical tsunami shelter in the United States." In the event of an offshore earthquake triggering a tsunami, local residents would have about 20-30 minutes to cluster for protection in a reinforced section of the school. The TCF Architecture, PLLC, web site said of this reinforced section of the Ocosta Elementary School: "To address this need for a community safe haven, TCF created the nation’s first Vertical Evacuation Center. At fifty-three feet above sea level, a rooftop evacuation platform sits high above the school commons and gymnasium. It is accessible via four flanking stair towers enclosed in concrete, and designed to hold 1,000 people. While the majority of the facility is constructed to meet standard building code regulations, this portion of the building is fortified to withstand a 9.2 magnitude quake, along with potential damaging after-effects of incoming waves. The steel-framed structure is clad in concrete masonry and metal wall panels, part of a material palette resistant to the harsh coastal environment." (See TCF Architecture, PLLC, " (See TCF Architecture,, “A Safe Haven School, Ocosta Elementary School, Westport, WA,” accessed 03/11/2020.)

PCAD id: 23383