In only 25 months over the course of two school years, Robins & Morton orchestrated the $39-million, 210,000-sq-ft phased renovation and expansion of Opelika High School. The project transformed the facility, more than 40 years old, into one of Alabama’s most up-to-date high schools. The overhaul features 87 new classrooms with touchscreen technology; a refreshed main entrance, exterior and “main street”; a completely renovated Bulldog Stadium and accompanying women’s athletic facility; as well as a new, 22,000-sq-ft indoor athletic facility.

Going into the project, the contractor planned a three-phase build-out, but decided early on to compress the schedule to two phases by completing some work during the contract’s first summer period. This approach resulted in the contractor first moving roughly 50% of the student body into portable classrooms and then demolishing and rebuilding half of the school during the 2012-2013 school year. The following year, students occupied the new spaces while the contractor rebuilt the remaining half.

The job presented numerous challenges. One obstacle was serendipitous: an unexpected playoff run by the school’s football team—to the state championship. However, it consolidated the schedule for Bulldog Stadium’s renovation by one month. Summer school activities, such as classes, theater performances, band camp and summer athletics also challenged the contractor’s construction plan. “We were constantly improvising to accommodate school activities,” says Trey Crittenden, the general contractor’s project manager.

Charged with coordinating the work of 10 prime contractors and multiple subs, Robins & Morton implemented lean construction principles to complete the project on schedule, while also reducing the owner’s cost by more than $800,000.

Opelika High School

Opelika, Ala.

Key Players
Owner Opelika City School
Lead Design Firm Payne Lee & Associates
Contractor Robins & Morton
Structural Engineer Blackburn Daniels O’Barr Inc.
MEP Engineer Borden & Morris, Consulting Engineers