What are the major issues affecting school construction today? Spiezle’s Scott Downie has the answers!

“To manage bid costs, specifications are being carefully considered, bid alternates utilized, and different approaches to construction scheduling implemented with an eye toward managing labor costs and building in schedule flexibility.”

That’s according to Scott Downie, Principle of Spiezle Architectural Group, as quoted in a recent news story published by the New Jersey School Boards Association. In the piece entitled “Construction, Architecture and Facilities Roundtable: Coping with Changing Times,” moderator Thomas A. Parmalee conducted a roundtable conversation with several notable architects in the educational field to gauge their thoughts on ongoing supply chain issues, spiraling costs, as well as inevitable other delays that harbor the building trades in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.

Parmalee’s survey was conducted in the wake of the Woodbridge Board of Education’s decision to scrap plans to build an entirely new school in favor of renovating an existing one when the cost of new construction ballooned from $35 million to $50 million. Furthermore, inflation, supply chain woes, and a labor shortage have only increased the problems within the trade. But there are ways to circumvent these issues, as Downie explained in the chat.

“Specifically, with the market as dynamic as it is, bidding early and purposely building time into schedules to allow for potential rebidding to achieve better results is critical,” Downie said. “There are many ways to actively design to manage these costs, but they need to be explored and integrated early in project development to be effective.”

Downie also advises avoiding the cookie-cutter model of educational construction. Particularly as we have learned more about the hybrid and remote-learning models, staying away from a one-size-fits-all design model ensures that educators meet students where they are—rather than forcing them into a limiting paradigmatic box. This can be as simple as crafting “environments designed for varied acoustic characteristics, such as increased privacy as well as social areas,” Downie said.

Downie was joined in the roundtable by esteemed colleagues George R. Duthie, Principal of FVHD Architects-Planners, and Michael J. Wozny, Vice President of Educational Projects for EI Associates Architects & Engineers, P.A.

To read more, click here.

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