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A place of space to explore

image Weiss High School’s front entrance. (Photo by Brian Mihealsick)

AUSTIN - This fall Pflugerville ISD has opened Weiss High School, its newest secondary education campus in which students will have 375,000sf to explore and discover their interests, passions and purpose, make friends and, maybe, play a little ball.





An $89.6 million project, financing for the facility was part of a 2014 bond package that passed with nearly 70 percent support.
    The result is a school that accommodates a population of 2,500 within 55 general classrooms, 20 science labs, three art rooms plus continuing technical education pods for business labs, computer science, health science, wood/metal shop, engineering and horticulture.
    And like many public high schools, WHS would be incomplete without athletic amenities; therefore plans also provided for the construction of a new 3,000-seat football stadium, a 700-seat baseball stadium, a 700-seat softball stadium and a 1,895-seat competition gym.
    Interior materials used in the project are a combination of painted gypsum, masonry and ceramic wall tile. The floors include luxury plank flooring, carpet and polished concrete. Wood slats, a lay-in acoustical ceiling and acoustical wall panels complete the auditorium.
    Exterior materials include a mix of stucco, natural stone, metal wall panels and brick.
    The project took two years to complete.
    Daniel Lind, the project manager for American Constructors, explains a couple of its unusual features as well as several challenges incurred by the project team.
    Two unique features are the extensive use of ground source heat pumps throughout the school, which reduces operational costs of the heating and cooling system, and an abundance of polished concrete flooring.
    Lind says, “One of our challenges was keeping these floors from being damaged. In high-profile areas, we poured slab below the floor-level prior to wall construction. Then we poured a topping slab after construction to prevent damage to the final flooring.”
    Additional challenges included limited space for a large volume of above-ceiling mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, which the project teams addressed by using Navisworks to run clash detection and by holding numerous pre-planning and coordination meetings to eliminate as many conflicts as possible.
    Also, early on, crews found on-site groundwater, so the building was moved to another location on the 150-acre tract where water was less prevalent.
    And finally, highly expansive soil required removal of 12 ft. of existing material and the importing of select fill.
    Dan Horan, the senior project manager, says, “Because this project was built under the construction manager at risk delivery method, we were involved during the early stages of design. We developed strong relationships with the school district administration, the architect and the engineers resulting in a collaborative work environment, mutual respect for each team member’s expertise and good communication throughout the duration of the project.”
    Team members included Horan, Lind and project superintendent, Colt Balthazor, as well as PBK Architects and structural engineers, Dunaway Associates, Inc., civil engineers, Gil Engineering Associates, Inc. and mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers, MEP Engineering.
    American Constructors has built 145 school projects since it was founded in 1982 by Bill Heine, who now serves as chairman of the board.
    It also has been involved in a diverse mix of other projects in manufacturing, commercial, health care, industrial, religious and high-tech markets. Projects have ranged from $800,000 to about $120 million in new construction, additions and expansions and renovations in both the public and the private sector.
    “We excel in providing design input and support on projects that require a builder with detailed technical expertise and accurate estimating services,” says Marty Burger, CEO.
    American Constructors is a general contractor located in Cedar Park. It serves the greater Austin area and Central Texas. - ke

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Kim Estes austineditor@constructionnews.net