As local schools sit empty and students adjust to learning from home under the current stay-at-home order, many local school construction projects have continued to progress—ensuring the physical facilities are ready for kids once school life returns to normal.
Hollis + Miller Architects specializes in education and works with a large majority of Kansas City and Denver-area school districts. The firm has been working on a number of school projects to ensure they’re ready for the upcoming school year, including Park Hill’s LEAD Innovation Studio, Liberty’s Performing Arts Center and new additions to Blue Springs High School (including a state-of-the-art band practice space) in the Kansas City area, and Colorado Skies Academy, a new charter school for grades 6-8 located at the Centennial Airport, in the Denver area.
While safety for all contractors has been paramount, the projects have nevertheless been able to move forward, despite the current obstacles.
“We’ve implemented procedures to ensure we maintain project safety and are meeting the safety guidelines of the authorities,” said Mike Chiles, senior project manager for JE Dunn, overseeing the trade partners on the Blue Springs project. “Communication is key, and the teams have handled that well with daily huddles and constant on-site supervision.”
Chiles said that while the current situation isn’t ideal, the team needed to overcome any obstacles to keep construction on schedule.
“It’s a major project for the school and the community, and it will allow them to really expand their programs and ability to impact the community,” he said.
The same is true on the Colorado Skies Academy project, said Doug Dreier, project manager with JHL Constructors, who is overseeing the project:
“Construction is progressing extremely well,” he said. “If school does start in the fall, we want it to be held in the new, permanent facility and not in the temporary modular classrooms where classes were being held prior to closing due to COVID-19.”
Maintaining those partnerships among the architect, contractors and trade partners is crucial, especially when a project is facing additional challenges like they are now, said Kirk Horner, partner at Hollis + Miller.
“The teams working on these schools are doing exemplary work, and we’re so thankful to work with such committed individuals,” he said. “While the local community will take a while to bounce back from this, we see this kind of construction as a positive sign of economic health. Our local schools are committed to consistently improving the learning environments for our local students, and we’re privileged to contribute to that effort.”
Several projects remain on schedule to open in time for the fall 2020 school year.