A Newark K-8 charter school was in jeopardy of losing its charter. The money available to build the school a permanent home was far below what the construction market would bear. We accepted the challenge to build as much of the building at an extremely low cost. Our methodology required as much offsite construction as possible both to reduce the cost of onsite construction and the tight timetable.
A new addition was proposed to wrap around an existing school building to create a central courtyard, which became the organizing element for the school. Classrooms with single-loaded corridors and faculty offices face the courtyard and visually and acoustically buffer an easily monitored central play space.
The design team looked for alternative methods of building to change the market conditions. How much of the building could be built offsite to reduce cost? Wood framed modules were the cheapest option, but this required MEP systems and cladding to be installed onsite. The more expensive prefabricated steel and concrete modules allowed mechanical systems, cladding and finishes to be pre-installed in the factory. Ultimately, the solution was to form a new hybrid module to best utilize the advantages of steel construction and wood construction.
In addition, all elements of the foundations including footings, columns, retaining walls, and foundations were fabricated offsite. This methodology enabled the building to be completed in 10 months and well under the limited budget available.
The charter school moved into their new home on schedule.