Balfour Beatty began laying the groundwork for the success of Gideons Elementary School in January 2017, when our team initiated a strategic effort to build a relationship of mutual trust and collaboration with Atlanta Public Schools (APS).
The efforts paid off when Balfour Beatty was later awarded the 79,000-square-foot transformation of Charles L. Gideons Elementary School. Located in Pittsburgh, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Atlanta, the project brings a much-needed renewal for residents and will play a vital role in shaping many young lives for years to come.
Designed to create a warm and inspiring environment, the halls of Gideons Elementary School shine with bright colors that dance on the walls, welcoming all who learn, play and grow in its classrooms. The additions and renovations include 33 new and updated classrooms filled with bright, primary colors, offices, administrative spaces, a media center, state-of-the-art kitchen and cafeteria, a performance auditorium, music and art rooms, teacher workspaces and outdoor facilities to meet the unique needs of students, teachers and parents.
The project also encompassed exterior improvements, including four new canopies, hardscapes and stairs, installation of a new underground storm system/retention pond, a new bus loop including new locations for easy parent drop-off, green space and new perimeter fencing that Balfour Beatty donated.
To successfully deliver the dreams for this educational facility, Balfour Beatty collaborated relentlessly with APS and trade partners to complete the award-winning project on time and with a substantial $1.8 million in cost savings. Throughout construction, Balfour Beatty navigated challenges by providing custom and creative project solutions:
Strategic Staffing and Project Management:
By leveraging the Construction Manager at-Risk (CM at-Risk) delivery method, Balfour Beatty was empowered to provide early solutions during preconstruction to budgetary, technical and schedule-related challenges. To ensure a seamless transition once the project broke ground, the project manager and field team were also tied into the preconstruction phase from day one.
The team’s extensive K-12 construction and renovation experience also facilitated the thoughtful selection of trade partners with strong K-12 portfolios.
Instead of waiting for the design to complete, the project team provided continuous value engineering (VE), coordination and constructability feedback as the design progressed. The integration of BIM and laser scanning into the constructability process allowed Balfour Beatty to proactively identify and address potential issues before construction began and provide solutions during design development.
When the project initially came in over budget, Balfour Beatty’s preconstruction team worked diligently with architect Goodwyn Mills Cawood to provide the client with a path to their $14.4 million budget without significantly altering the design intent or APS’s requirements.
Strict cost management coupled with extensive value engineering ultimately resulted in an impressive $1.8 million in cost savings for the school.
Logistical Challenges and Scheduling Success
From an extremely tight site to narrow roads, limited truck room, rain and permitting delays, the project team overcame it all.
To maximize schedule efficiencies and overcome an initial 90-day permit delay, Balfour Beatty successfully leveraged pull planning, accelerated trade partners’ workflows and developed a phased move-in plan.
The project team also coordinated with the local community to ensure site access resulted in minimal disruption. To achieve this, the team developed and oversaw a meticulous delivery schedule which entailed a strict, 48-hour advance notification process.
Once renovations began, the team discovered that two existing buildings were missing as-built information, leading to significant wall, structural, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) design discrepancies. As an expert in VDC/BIM and laser scanning, Balfour Beatty built 3D models that were leveraged for further coordination.
Despite the many obstacles they faced, the project team completed the project on schedule and before the start of the new school year for students and teachers to enjoy.
Recognizing the significance of this project to APS and the community of Pittsburgh, the project team was determined to give back in more ways than one. Once construction began, the team assessed the conditions of existing buildings and created a “wish list” of items outside of the scope that were eventually fulfilled with the leftover cost savings they delivered.
Finally, in an effort to ensure students and teachers could start the new school year with all their needs met, the team organized a supply drive that donated over 30 bookbags with complete school supply lists that covered all K-5 grades.
Construction of Gideons Elementary School completed in summer 2019 and has since received two notable award wins: a 2020 Excellence in Construction (EIC) Eagle Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Georgia and a 2020 Project Achievement Award from the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) South Atlantic Chapter.