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Signature daycare

image The Learning Experience, Mansfield, TX

DALLAS/FT WORTH - The Learning Experience in Mansfield is one of TR Hall Construction’s (TRH) latest projects. The company was brought into the daycare project by Hanover Property Company, after the original general contractor went bankrupt four months into the job.




    The project took 10 months to complete, including two months to negotiate a replacement contract and remobilize subs, almost from scratch, after the first contractor vacated the job. The norm, according the TLE, is 8-10 months.
    This new 10,000sf day care center building combines childcare and early childhood pre-kindergarten education for children between the ages of 6 months to 6 years with amenities for before- and after-school programs as well as school-age summer camp.
    Brick, stone and stucco made up the facility’s exterior. The main entry is framed with TLE signature “leaning blocks” – colored blocks of EIFS with letters and numbers supporting the entry canopy on both sides. Everyone enters under the sign featuring “Bubbles” the elephant over the tag line “Academy for Early Education.”
    Hanover Property Company, the owner, insisted on upgrading the hardy board to brick and stone to match the amenities in their adjacent centers. While the upgrades on the exteriors do not contribute to educating the kids, the extra money paid dividends with drive up appeal and the opening enrollments.
    Interior materials are traditional wood stud framing, drywall partitions and acoustical ceilings. Then the TLE features kick in with multi-colored walls and flooring materials, the Make-Believe Boulevard and custom logos on the floor tile at Main Street and at the front entry.
    Separate classrooms are specifically designed to meet the needs of children in all six stages of early development. Bathrooms are designed for age-appropriate use; even the largest has tiny toilets. Rough-ins in every classroom for wall mounted interactive large smart board-touch screens for teaching and learning are part of the interior’s construction.
    Safety is an important feature in all TLE facilities. Cameras are installed in each classroom and monitored in the administrative offices. Programmed key fobs are given to the parents for entry into the lobby. Even standard wall construction was modified to provide rounded corners in hallways and classrooms.
    There were several challenges on this project, with the most difficult being the way TRH got started. The original general contractor went bankrupt four months into the job, two weeks short of completing the wood framing. They had just turned in their fourth pay app of $700K and most of the subs had not been paid. None of the subcontracts had been issued past the framing. Even if they had been, there was at least four months of construction left which would put the project one month past the original completion date.
    Fortunately, Wayne Aho, the original superintendent, decided to stay with the job. His knowledge of the project was immeasurable. 
    With a new team put together, TRH was able to keep five of the seven subcontractors who had previously started with the job. TRH’s open book approach was the key to renegotiating old bids into new subcontracts and completing the job.
    Unlike most daycare centers, The Learning Experience has more than double the amount of drawings for their projects, which presented a challenge. The drawings are very detailed to maintain nationwide consistency and to emphasize the features unique to TLE. One drawback was discovering the different details for things like roofing, where one roof type works better in the north and something different works better in the south.
    Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers, based in New Jersey, designs essentially all the work for TLE nationally. Although the drawings are very detailed to maintain consistency, TLE is constantly tweaking the designs. In spite of all the work Jarmel Kizel had going on, they were extremely accommodating to resurrect all the drawing logs, RFI’s and submittals when TRH took over the project.
    The decision by Hanover to put their trust in TR Hall Construction to get the job done averted a major financial disaster. The reward for TRH is experience, easily giving it a two-month competitive advantage and a great group of subs ready to go on to the next one.
    TR Hall Construction Inc. is a general contractor and construction management firm in Dallas. Since 1998 they have specialized in commercial, retail, institutional and industrial projects. –cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net