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Best K-12 Education: Carnegie Vanguard High School

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Turner Construction completed the $14.9-million, 84,500-sq-ft Carnegie Vanguard High School in August 2012. The school, built as part of the Houston Independent School District's 2007 Bond Program, educates more than 500 gifted and talented students.

Photo by Slyworks Photography
The $14.9-million, 84,500-sq-ft Carnegie Vanguard High School.
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Carnegie Vanguard is a two-story concrete tilt-wall building with a structural steel frame. It includes a two-story concrete parking structure that houses tennis courts on the top floor.

The building will be LEED certified and features a green roof that will be used as an outdoor teaching area. Sitework on the project includes a park developed in a joint venture with the city of Houston. The park has a sand volleyball court and baseball fields.

Construction was on a tight, rectangular site, making it difficult to navigate cranes to lift the tilt-wall panels. Turner developed a solution to pour most of the slab, leaving out a corner to allow for crane placement. After the corner panels were lifted and the crane was moved, the team poured the remainder of the slab.

In addition, the design called for spandrel panels on the second floor. Concrete had to be poured and set before Turner's team could lift the panels into place.

Lastly, all of the bracing had to be from the interior—the school district wanted no exterior bracing on the tilt-wall panels because the original design called for the exterior facade to remain unpainted. Turner's team developed a logistics plan that allowed for the tilt-wall panels to be braced from the inside.

The most significant challenge resulted from the fact that the project site is on what was once a Civil War burial ground. While HISD was assured that any graves had been moved to a nearby cemetery, the paperwork documenting that was nowhere to be found. As a result, HISD hired a third-party firm to excavate the site in a grid pattern to ensure there were no remains.

While nothing was found, as a precaution, the contractor had an archaeologist on site to monitor any excavation beyond 2 ft deep, which required extensive coordination with the team. The end result was a clean site and no issues or delays resulting from the site's connections to the Civil War.

The school was also constructed in a residential neighborhood, next to an existing and operational school. To avoid noise and traffic issues, the project team scheduled daily deliveries around peak times and routed traffic to minimize disruption to the neighborhood. In addition, the project team monitored site access and egress to ensure the safety of the students, parents, faculty and staff at the neighboring school.

Turner's community involvement team also worked with HISD and local community leaders to pilot an outreach session targeting small and minority businesses, particularly Houston residents seeking employment from the city's Third and Fourth wards.

During a local job fair, the community involvement team provided safety requirements, project start dates and specific details on what subcontracting and employment opportunities were available.

As a result, HISD and Turner worked together to develop a process that requires similar outreach programs on all future work within the school district.

Key Players

Owner Houston Independent School District, Houston

General Contractor Turner Construction Co., Houston

Lead Design RdlR Architects Inc., Houston

Structural Ingenium Inc., Houston; Civil Klotz Associates, Houston

MEP Rice & Gardner Consulting Engineers, Houston

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