Two projects in one

Given the tight, two-year time line from conceptual design to occupancy, Sierra says the project team decided to use off-the-shelf steel framing systems for most of the project. Those systems included scissor beams within the classroom bays.

Talkington says the team also included scheduling requirements in each of the specialty contractor bid packages. Contracts were awarded in large part based on the ability of a firm to produce manpower and materials on time. To maximize performance, Beck divided the project in half and started both sections at the same time.

"It basically made for two smaller projects running concurrently. It's a standard Beck practice," says Talkington.

Even though construction contracts were not awarded until design development drawings were 100% complete, designers used in-house estimators for early cost estimates.

Sierra says that as soon as the construction team mobilized, it was then able to identify constructibility and scheduling issues early in the process. Sitework details were also released early, which allowed the contractor to get a head start.

"Integration of the design and construction teams was vital to achieving the tight schedule," says Sierra.

Sustainable, Flexible Design

While Life School did not apply for LEED-Silver certification, Talkington says the project was built with most of the same sustainable elements. The school wraps around an open courtyard and is oriented on the site to maximize northern and eastern sun exposure and minimize west-facing glazing and facades.

Broad overhangs on classroom windows and sunshades reduce heat gain but allow for natural light. The wide corridors feature high ceilings and clerestory windows. Beck also installed an efficient chilled-water system with variable air volume air distribution.