The $103.6-million Atlantic Coast High School on 100 acres of land in Jacksonville was constructed as an enhanced hurricane protection area to be used by the city of Jacksonville during emergencies. It includes 850 standard beds and 250 special-needs beds.

Photo Courtesy W.G. Mills
Photo Courtesy W.G. Mills

The new school embraces the variety of learning styles of today’s students and teachers. Operable walls provide the flexibility to expand or contract the educational space for a variety of academic functions.

The design features a courtyard centered within the main building with structures that create gallery spaces for functional circulation and natural lighting. The project included classrooms, labs, galleries, food service/dining, administrative spaces, auditorium, gymnasium and athletic fields with a football stadium.

The building exterior reflects a “low country architecture” style that was at one time prevalent in the area. A central tower element creates a recognizable entry element along the public edge and establishes a landmark reminiscent of the older historic buildings of the region. Sitework for the project included two large ponds, more than 800 parking spaces, the widening of a major city roadway and the creation of a massive earthen berm.

W.G. Mills began the design-build project in March 2008. When the purchase of the originally planned site fell through, the project team assisted in a new search and analysis of other options and then worked on design of the site plan on the new property, which is adjacent to an existing senior community.

The company completed the project under budget and on time in March, with no lost-time accidents. W.G. Mills exceeded the goal of 15% minority-owned participation and achieved 80% local participation. The school alleviates crowding in other area schools, which have long been over capacity.

Key Players

Owner: Duval County Public Schools
Contractor: W.G. Mills
Architect: SchenkelShultz Architecture
Engineers: JBC Planning & Engineering, LLC, BBM Structural Engineer, Matern Professional Engineering, Estrella Engineering