Educating While Building
Safety comes first, particularly in the expansion of an occupied elementary school. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for making the students part of the project. Case in point: the three-building, 90,000 square foot addition to Bunnell Elementary School, part of Flagler County Schools, Bunnell, Florida, which required work throughout the school year to meet the eleven-month delivery schedule.
The Bunnell K8 project was Barton Malow’s second of three engagements for Flagler County, the fastest-growing county in Florida. Working both as construction manager and general contractor, Barton Malow has delivered projects to accommodate rapid growth.
For Bunnell Elementary, architect Paul Stresing and Associates selected tilt-wall construction, a process in which exterior concrete walls are site-cast and then tilted into place. With crane lifts exceeding 85,000 pounds, separation of students from the work zone was imperative. Barton Malow erected fencing and barriers, including special corridors around the work zone for emergency egress and a temporary bus loading and unloading zone. Concrete pours were scheduled for the middle of the night.
Safety also required that we communicate closely with neighbors – housing encircled the site. And we kept Principal Richard Dupont up to date on activities, so he could keep students, faculty and staff informed.
We also considered teaching to be a big part of our role, showcasing what it takes to build a new school. Barton Malow invited students to participate in the ground-breaking, gave them a lesson on tilt-wall construction so they could “serve” as sidewalk superintendents as the first panels were erected, and asked them to sign their names to the ceremonial last piece of steel at topping out, so that they would forever be part of Bunnell Elementary.
They learned all about the time-honored tradition of topping out, with its message of optimism: the safety of the construction workers and, in the years to come, prosperity for all whose lives are intertwined with the new building.