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Tampa Heights Elementary Magnet School | Submitted by JE Dunn Construction


Region: ENR Southeast

K-12 Education

CONTRACTOR: JE Dunn Construction Co.

OWNER: Hillsborough County Public Schools

LEAD DESIGN FIRM: Fleischman Garcia Architecture

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Master Consulting Engineers Inc.

CIVIL ENGINEER: Campo Engineering Inc.

MEP ENGINEER: Voltair Engineering

Tasked with rebuilding a historic Tampa elementary school that was nearly destroyed in 2017 by the one-two punch of Hurricane Irma and ensuing fire, contractor JE Dunn Construction Co. and architect Fleishman Garcia began a painstaking effort to revive the early 1900s-era brick building into a modern facility. 

Once on site after winning the assignment to rebuild and expand Tampa Heights Elementary Magnet School in late 2018, the team found that areas of the building’s heavily damaged west side were near collapse, with one wall leaning roughly 6 in. out of plumb. The hazardous situation caused the owner to hire another contractor to install steel bracing around a section of the building to prevent it from falling. 

To reuse the historic bricks, crews worked with “surgical” care to salvage as many as possible, says Curtis DeLaquil, JE Dunn’s senior project manager. “We had to be very delicate with how we preserved those brick walls,” which had been built of heavy timber supported by a three-brick-wide exterior. Crews removed the salvageable bricks individually, carefully gathering up about 51,000—enough to cover the rebuilt structure’s new north, east and west walls. 

Installation of windows was another challenge, as was phasing the work due to the building’s logistics. “We had some serious constraints working within the confines of those existing brick walls,” DeLaquil says. The effort was worth it, contest judges say.

“Building schools is very rewarding because everybody’s so grateful,” he says, adding that the school’s principal was “in tears” when the project completed. “It was a big deal.”