Case Studies

Seward Middle School

Turning a Century-old Institution into a Modern Day Marvel
  • Written by: Seward Middle School
  • Produced by: Seward Middle School
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

When the DLR Group conducted facility studies at the Seward Middle School in fall 2008, it was clear the 19th century building was in need of a full rebuild. Located in Seward, Neb., Seward Middle School had “unseen” structural problems in addition to electrical, air handling and plumbing systems that required an upgrade.

The original middle school was built in 1915, and while beautifully maintained, showed signs of age in many areas. From an energy standpoint, the steam heating of boilers and radiators, along with 100-year-old windows, created an inefficient, energy-escaping situation. The building also lacked any kind of central air conditioning system. The 1930s and 1950s additions housed undersized classrooms, all with similar problems.

An electrical system unable to handle today’s technology needs, plumbing enclosed by concrete walls making repairs nearly inaccessible, entrances that limit accessibility and present fire safety hazards all combined to make the school district realize something needed to be done quickly.

Welcome to the 21st Century

Although the original building served generations of students for well over 100 years, it was clear; it was time for change, and Kingery Construction Co. (Kingery) was the one for the job. In partnership with architectural firm The Clark Enersen Partners (Clark) and Platt Valley Precast Inc. (Platt Valley), Kingery completed earthwork on the 108,000-square-foot structure in November 2010, and began construction in April 2011.

Kingery built the middle school on a pod-based concept where each grade level has its own division. The state-of-the-art, $16 million facility includes classrooms, offices, computer labs, a cafeteria and full kitchen, as well as a common area and two gymnasiums. Kingery said goodbye to the old, outdated HVAC and installed an energy-efficient California loop heat pump heating and cooling system.

“This was an exciting project for which we’ve recently received an ACI Excellence Award for our work at Seward Middle School,” details Rick Edmonds, project manager for Kingery.

Springing for Progress

After installing the building pad in fall 2010, Kingery began site-work and construction in spring 2011. “Once the ground thawed enough to allow for more dirt work to be completed the project could forge ahead,” recalls Edmonds. “As construction manager, we opened bid packages for the footings and shell of the building early, to fast-track the project.”

Clark provided Kingery with a simulation of what the final product would look like and a movie with an aerial view of the buildings from all angles. The footprint of the buildings started to take shape and bids were placed for off-site work such as wall panel construction. “The walls are 100 percent pre-cast panels,” describes Edmonds. “The building consists of a single-story structure, with the exception of amenities and a wrestling area.”

Through the spring and summer months, Kingery continued the construction process at Seward Middle School but began to realize some difficulties with the location. Situated on 42 acres, the site was a former cornfield before the city annexed the land for development.

“We had record rainfall in Nebraska in spring 2011, which created a huge problem for our crews,” recalls Edmonds. “We had 42 acres of mud on a rolling site. It was almost impossible to contain the water because there was no previous infrastructure to work with.”

The Kingery team pushed through the mud and rain by building a crushed gravel road circling the structure and the rest of the site. “We worked for 15 months straight,” admits Edmonds. “It was a constant push to pull through. We also had to overcome some design modifications halfway through the project.”

The company adapted quickly when the owner decided on a different mechanical design at the last minute, which almost set the job back. “It required us to reschedule the delivery of mechanical equipment and reshuffle the schedule and crews,” adds Edmonds. “We found ways to overcome the setbacks and still completed on time in June 2012.”

As the construction manager on-site, Kingery managed a large force of subcontractors. “From the beginning we had competitive bid packages and local contactors vying for the job,” explains Edmonds. “We knew going into the groundbreaking that we had quality subcontractors that could do the job with no problem; you have to have good people. We had a mixture of longstanding subcontractors and others who were first timers.”

Platt Valley operated in conjunction with Kingery as one of Edmond’s mentioned trusted subcontractors. Specializing in all forms of concrete flatwork, including residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, both colored and stamped concrete, as well as laser screed services, Platt Valley provided the essential base for Kingery to move forward and erect Seward Middle School.

“We would like to thank Kingery Construction for allowing us to pour the building floors at the Seward Middle School,” shares the team at Platt Valley. Solid relationships with reputable companies like Platt Valley have helped Kingery build over a quarter century of success.

After 25 years with Kingery, Edmonds has learned to love a challenge. “Every job is different, and it’s always a learning experience,” he shares. “We are proud of the work we do. We want to come back in two or three years and see that every aspect is still in great shape.” At the new and improved Seward Middle School, the Kingery team delivered just what was promised: a facility that students, faculty, the school district and Kingery Construction Co. can be proud of.

Published on: May 15, 2013

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