Denver Public Schools Far Northeast Campus
Best Project

Owner: Denver Public Schools
Lead Design Firm: MOA Architecture
General Contractor: Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Structural Engineer: Fortis Structural LLC
Civil Engineer: JVA Inc.
Mechanical Engineer: Envision Mechanical Engineers
Electrical Engineer: SSG MEP Inc. (BCER)

Denver Public Schools has grown by 25% over the past decade, and northeast Denver was critically in need of a new school to ease crowding at its present facility. The district’s Far Northeast Campus was built in just 12 months—half the usual construction time for a school of its size and complexity. The DPS school provides learning at a central location for families whose children attend classes through eighth grade.

In addition to housing standard classrooms, the school has facilities for music and art as well as science labs, a gymnasium, a kitchen and a cafeteria. The 13-acre campus includes a multipurpose field, play structures, painted game areas, shelters and picnic tables, a baseball field, four basketball courts and a school garden.

Perhaps the project’s most impressive aspect was the speed with which it was built. In the words of the contractor, “Extremely tight schedules inspire unique teamwork.” The schedule dictated that construction begin before design was finished. Flexibility was paramount. The contractor said, “We recognized that there would be changes and conflicts as construction progressed and mutually agreed that communication was key. Our working relationship had to stay positive to achieve this tight schedule.”

Included in the fast-track schedule was a decision to continue interior work without putting the mechanical units in place because they required a long lead time for delivery. Rather than delay construction, the contractor made temporary curb cuts in the roof so the units could be installed later.  

Moving dirt to balance the site and bring it to the proper elevation also demanded innovation. The earthwork could have taken a year by itself. However, instead of importing 70,000 cu yd of dirt, the contractor “borrowed” soil from the playground and playing field, then redistributed and replaced it as opportunities arose.

The team’s solid communication and streamlining measures paid off. The project came in $1 million under budget—at $34.2 million vs. $35.2 million. The district purchased a new synthetic-turf field with the savings, and the children of northeast Denver have a sparkling new place to learn and play.

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