Missouri Innovation Campus
Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Best Project  

Owner: Lee’s Summit R7 School District
Construction Manager: McCownGordon Construction
Lead Design Firm: DLR
Civil Engineer: SK Design Group
MEP Engineer: Henderson Engineers Inc.
Design architect: Gould Evans

The Missouri Innovation Campus’ collaborative program allows high school juniors enrolled in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s Summit Technology Academy to receive a University of Central Missouri bachelor’s degree in one of four high-demand, high-paying fields within just two years of graduating high school. As a result, this K-12 replacement project had significant involvement with 40 area businesses involved with the program as well as stakeholders from both academic institutions.

“It really was a collaborative effort with all stakeholders from the earliest stages of preconstruction,” says Luke Deets, director of operations at construction manager McCownGordon Construction. “In addition to our VDC and preplanning activities, we had everyone from the university and the Lee’s Summit R7 School District involved early on.”

The effort put forth in preconstruction led to the building coming in 7.7% under budget and at a lean cost of $216 per sq ft for a very tech-heavy science, technology, engineering and mathematics academy. Since the building site was undeveloped, the lack of city streets and utilities posed several construction challenges. A new city street was constructed at the same time as the building, complicating the delivery of  project materials. However, Deets says this merely made the team plan its deliveries and construction activities more diligently and use more directional signage on the dirt roads that were created during construction.

The design team from DLR and Gould Evans created 60 flexible teaching spaces, but few are traditional classrooms. Instead, most act as experiential laboratories, with some having the audio/visual capabilities of a high-tech corporate office. The building had to be flexible because of the school’s dual curriculum in both K-12 and Central Missouri’s STEM bachelor’s degree programs. 

“It really was a unique program with both the university and the school district involved,” says Deets. “We don’t mind blazing the trail, but it’s honestly one that we hope others follow because we would really like to see more education programs and schools like this.”