Safety of students and staff, and minimizing disruption are the project’s highest priorities. The proposed school will be built in multiple phases on the existing site and the current school will remain operational during construction. In this blog, we detail the methods in which the Town, school administration and project team will plan and monitor the educational environment and safety of the students and staff while the new school is being constructed.
A key member of the team that was brought on early in the process is the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM). Skanska USA, Arlington’s OPM, has many roles on the project, but one of their most important is acting as the Town’s and School’s eyes and ears throughout the construction process. The OPM will be involved in all aspects of the Construction phase to ensure the best interests of the student, staff and Town are represented at all times. The OPM will always be present on site throughout the duration of construction.
Other members of the project team include HMFH Architects (Designer) and the Construction Manager (yet to be hired). Skanska and HMFH have large amounts of experience with complex phased/occupied projects and understand the challenges, as will the Construction Manager. They understand that the highest priority is ensuring that the impact to students is at its absolute minimum. Proper planning is key to accomplishing this goal. Members of the project team have successfully completed numerous complex, phased construction projects in close proximity to occupied schools throughout the state. Through this experience, the project team has amassed many lessons learned and best practices
Prevention of any disruption starts with proper planning. When the design and phasing of the project were developed during the Feasibility and Schematic Design phases, the project team prioritized minimizing the impact to the students and staff.
The Construction Manager will be brought on board during the Design Development phase (estimated to begin summer 2019) and this is when the final logistics and planning will begin. Note that since Skanska is our OPM, they cannot also be the Construction Manager and a different company will be hired as the Construction Manager.
When phasing is planned, the teachers and programs being affected will be consulted so that there is minimal impact on how they typically operate. There will also be opportunities for parents and community members to share their concerns. The construction process will be overseen by a Construction Planning Team consisting of the Construction Manager, OPM, architect, Building Committee members, school administration, police, fire, and public health. This team will review construction activities close to the construction barrier and the impacts on students and their surroundings. The team will also develop detailed logistics plans that will ensure proper flow of students through the building and exterior.
When the Building Committee develops the contract with the Construction Manager, quiet and study days will be built in for key exam times during the year. On these days, no work that causes noise can be performed. This ensures the contractors’ schedule takes these days into account early on in the process. The Construction Manager will always take advantage of vacations, holidays and summers in order to accomplish work without students on site. All elements of the schedule, logistics and plan will ultimately be reviewed with the Construction Planning Team. Once all parties approve the contracts, schedules, logistics and phasing plans, the OPM will continuously monitor and update them as the project progresses.
A Phased Approach
One of the benefits of the chosen design concept is that the existing school will be fully operational during the first 18 month phase of construction. Current plans estimate that modular classrooms will not be needed during construction. During the first phase, the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) and Performing Arts wings will be built in front of the current school. Once these wings are completed, students will have their science, math, engineering, art and music classes in the new wings.
Subsequent phases will involve demolition of the current building and construction of the additional wings. Final phasing and timing will be determined when the Construction Manager is hired.
With a sound and vetted plan in place, the Construction phase of the new high school begins. Throughout this phase, open lines of communication between the school administration and the project team are key. The OPM will be in constant contact with the school. If issues arise, the OPM can quickly react and address them with the contractor. Noise is always a major concern when construction is being performed so close to classroom space. As noted above, certain days will be contractually required quiet days, however, even on non-quiet days should a particular activity become an issue, work plans can be adjusted.
The construction site will be totally segregated from the occupied side of the building. At the exterior, the site will be cordoned off by a site fence and to the interior there will be thick construction wall. Drop off, pick up and exits will change with the phasing and parents, students and staff will be updated on these changes.
Air quality is an extremely important priority with these types of projects. Air quality will be continuously monitored during construction on both the occupied and construction sides. Any activities that involve the handling or abatement of hazardous materials will be of the highest priority for the project teams. These activities will be monitored by both the state and project team to ensure they are adhering to all regulations.
All workers who are on the high school campus – regardless if it is the construction or occupied side – must have CORI checks completed before arriving on site. CORI checks are background checks that ensure that no workers have a criminal past. All workers must display a sticker on their hard hat so that they can easily be identified as approved to be onsite.
The health, safety and education of those that are in the building during construction is of the highest order. Throughout the Construction phase, open communication, plan monitoring and updating are the keys to success. At its core, the project has the students as its highest priority.
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