Due to a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Mineral, Virginia in 2011, the existing Louisa County High School was structurally damaged, leaving the community devastated. With the school condemned from the natural disaster, FEMA, the School Board, and the community stepped in to come up with a schedule that would not put the students behind.

While FEMA trailers were being delivered, students went on a rotating schedule, including Saturdays, sharing the middle school. Between locally sourced funds, FEMA funding, and a benefit concert from Alan Jackson, the school was ready to begin planning the replacement of Louisa County High School and bring the town of Mineral back to normalcy.

Keeping true to its original purpose of being a comprehensive high school, the project consisted of the construction of a new three-story high school including classrooms, science laboratories, cafeteria and dining facilities, a media center, gymnasiums and fitness and wellness rooms, locker rooms, an auditorium, music and drama rooms, administrative offices, and a pre-engineered building for automotive mechanics and turf grass management classes. The new high school was built with concrete foundations along the same footprint as the pre-existing high school. Its primary structure is steel framing and masonry bearing construction, composite concrete floor systems, steel joists and metal decking. Exterior finishes include veneer masonry over CMU cavity and metal stud walls, cast stone, curtain wall and storefront glazing systems, metal wall and roof panels, and single-ply roofing systems.


In the early stages of excavating, hundreds of cubic yards of unsuitable soil were discovered beneath the building footprint with large quantities of the unsuitable soil under the main building retaining wall. Barton Malow worked closely with the site contractor, civil engineer, third party testing agency, and Louisa County High School to come up with a two-week monitoring system to identify any changes in the retaining wall height. Due to the unexpected findings of unsuitable soils, Barton Malow flipped the entire building and started the construction on the east side of the building instead. The Owner, David ‘Sal’ Szalankiewicz, played a significant part in changing the schedule. His trust, guidance, and scheduling knowledge allowed Barton Malow to quickly change the scheduling logic so no lost time was encountered.


Unsuitable Soil

Solution: Along with the schedule ramifications due to unsuitable soils, the Louisa County High School project was expected to be a balanced site based on the initial civil design. Due to mass amounts of unsuitable soil leaving the site, Barton Malow and the Owner had to be creative and cost effective in bringing in suitable soil. The Owner diligently called various construction sites around the county to see if any surplus soil was available. Through hard work and planning, the team was able to bring in enough soil to bring the site back to proper balance.

Fast Track Design and Construction Schedule

Solution: Due to the high demand for a new High School, Grimm + Parker was selected for their fast track design and ability to quickly turn a prototype into a facility that met the needs of Louisa County. With the accelerated turn-around, there were few design elements that were not coordinated. During construction, Grimm + Parker’s availability and determination to field any discrepancies was extremely impressive. Communication and trust in Barton Malow allowed for expedited changes without any delays. 

Construction Deliveries with School Hours and Bus Times

Solution: With the students continuing school in FEMA trailers on the existing parking lot, safety was the number one priority. Wood fencing was used to separate the site from the students and surrounding community. Construction deliveries were not allowed from 7:30 AM–8:15 AM and 2:45 PM–3:15 PM while the buses dropped off and picked up students.