Building for the Future

Tyler Heights Elementary School

As every construction company knows all too well, even the best-planned projects do not always go according to schedule. Weather is not always on your side, and working in occupied spaces requires a high degree of safety and can be challenging, especially on educational works. Strong leadership and finding solutions to these and other obstacles sets professionals apart from the competition.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools has 122 schools and approximately 126 facilities under its umbrella, encompassing elementary through high school and two career and applied technology centers. Facilities include service support buildings for staff training or maintenance, and the board of education.

Last October saw Anne Arundel County officials take part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation and expansion of Tyler Heights Elementary School, part of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools revitalization in Annapolis, Maryland.

The school needed significant mechanical and plumbing upgrades, new classrooms, and other amenities. Despite adverse weather, construction manager as agent (CMa) CBRE | Heery (formerly known as Heery International Inc.) has done an excellent job of handling the project and keeping it on schedule.

CBRE | Heery has nineteen offices across the United States and is a full-service architecture, program management, engineering and interior design firm active in kindergarten to twelfth grade education, healthcare, government, corporate, and other types of construction projects.

Heery runs most of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools projects as construction manager as agent. “We actually hold all the contracts as multiple primes,” says Kyle Ruef, Supervisor of Planning, Design and Construction. The construction manager is responsible for managing trades and vendors as well as the general daily oversight of a project. Heery is on the short list of CMas. Prime Contractors are not shortlisted; they go out for competitive bidding, with the CMa assisting with the constructability and the billing on day-to-day operations.

“We look to have a relationship with all of our construction management firms. Longevity in business, past experience with educational projects, and knowledge of the way we operate are important factors in our selection,” he says.

Since the Tyler Heights project is an occupied site, safety is imperative, and Anne Arundel County Public Schools board depends on CBRE | Heery to maintain safety practices and protocols. Portable classroom buildings are being used to accommodate some students during the school year while construction is underway.

Tyler Heights Elementary School saw its first students in 1962 and had remained largely unchanged for almost sixty years. The school underwent a modest renovation in 1970, but no significant changes were made to the original structure other than general repairs and reroofing prior to the beginning of the revitalization last year.

Tyler Heights is receiving funding from the JumpStart Anne Arundel County capital project financing program, which enabled a fast-tracked construction timetable and is one of three schools in the district undergoing revitalizations. The other two are Edgewater and Richard Henry Lee Elementary schools. The project is about to enter the third year with funding coming from state and local sources.

Ruef says the budget for the Tyler Heights work is $37 million. This includes the 88,000- square-foot revitalization, A/E fees, utility costs, and furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E), which will help meet the needs of the growing population of Annapolis, the state capital and the county seat of Anne Arundel County.

“We’ve had an extremely wet construction season this year. Soil conditions have resulted in us having to use soil cement to stabilize our building sites,” says Ruef. “During these wet conditions, adding drying time to a tight construction schedule can take a toll on the duration of the project. In order to obtain satisfactory building pad compaction, as well as keep the project on schedule, we have mixed cement in with soil to decrease the need for drying the soils.”

The Tyler Heights Elementary School project was originally conceived as seven phases but the work has now been consolidated into five.

The thirty to forty workers on site will ramp up to about sixty in September, when children return to class. This phase will include the gym and cafeteria, fourteen classrooms, an instrumental music room, a kitchen, before and after care, and a general music classroom.

The next stage of the project will have ten classrooms, five of which will be kindergarten, a media center, and computer lab. The third stage will have another ten classrooms and five resource rooms. The fourth stage will be dedicated entirely to site work, set to start in the summer of 2020. The project’s fifth and final stage will see additional site work and the removal of portable classrooms currently on site.

The final work will include new windows and a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. Many of the existing finishes will be redone, except for the terrazzo, which will be maintained. Once completed, the entire program will include furniture, fixtures, equipment, architectural services, planning and engineering, utility upgrades, and more to ensure future students have an adequate environment for learning.

“The school will be equipped with Wi-Fi and will have smart boards and all the latest technology when we complete the renovations,” says Lisa Seaman-Crawford. As a licensed architect and Director of Facilities for the past nine years, she is responsible for planning, design and construction, maintenance, and operations. She is excited to see the school’s revitalization well underway.

Unlike other Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Tyler Heights was not equipped with wireless internet. “This one was on our planning schedule, so they waited until we did the renovations to convert it to wireless,” she says. The network and computer hardware for the project will cost about $675,000.

Tyler Heights will become a state-of-the-art educational facility with an increased classroom capacity from 479 to 549 students by its expected completion date of March 2021.

“We are going to create a twenty-first century school for the Tyler Heights community, and it will be a hub of the community for another twenty-five to fifty years,” says Seaman-Crawford.

Due Diligence

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October 22, 2019, 6:44 PM EDT