The KIPP Austin South Campus was a multiphase design-build project that repurposed a 130,000-sq-ft former Sam's Club retail store into a 161,914-sq-ft charter school. American Constructors used the same building footprint and shell of the warehouse building to construct a campus that houses K-12 students.

Photo by Jim Lincoln
KIPP Austin Public Schools South Campus

Construction was done in three phases, and each phase was occupied by students upon completion, starting with the middle school, followed by the elementary school, then the high school. The project also redeveloped part of the parking lot into a soccer field and play area.

The 25-year-old, deteriorated building shell was no longer a dried-in structure, having developed numerous holes, rust failures and general damage. There were no lugs, flashing, damp-proofing or waterproofing of any kind. For code and budget reasons, it was impossible to reskin the building, so to prevent water infiltration, the team developed an interior "exterior wall" system. Inside the existing metal building wall, the contractor built a concrete curb and installed flashing on the exterior side to prevent surface water from intruding beyond the curb. Next, an insulated air barrier wall system was installed to create air space that will continuously allow the metal building shell to condensate, drain and ventilate.

During phase two and the permit review of phase three, the city's building department changed its interpretation of fire-separation requirements. This affected the previously completed and occupied first phase. The fastest, most cost-effective solution was to remove the ceilings and spray fireproof the entire structure.

Work in the completed areas was scheduled during summer to minimize disruption, and the fireproofing for phases two and three was added into the sequence of construction.

Key Players

General Contractor American Constructors Inc., Austin, Texas

Owner KIPP Austin Public Schools

Lead Design STG Design, Austin, Texas