Contractors plan to put roof over construction

Iron Workers move steel beams into position on Sept. 2 at the construction site. The steel beams will be the support of the new construction, and they can weigh anywhere from 1,500-2,500 pounds. (photo by Kevin Killeen)

Kevin Killeen


Progress has been made with the construction of the north wing, as workers plan on having the roof finished by November 2011.

“They have been making great progress; we’re hoping to have a roof in three months,” said head principal Jon Clark. “I am very impressed.”

Iron workers have been on site six days a week, 10 hours a day in order to set up what the construction project manger Rob Strube refers to as “the steel skeleton — the single most critical point of the package.”

About 25-35 workers have been on site setting up the foundation and supports, which will soon hold the new roof in November. Construction managers plan to have the new building weather tight by December. As many as triple the workers are expected to come in and start work on the interior once the building is weather tight.

Some of the trades expected to be on sight include mechanical contractors, plumbers, fire protection contractors and dry-wall contractors. More contractors are expected to come on site as an average of 75-100 workers will be expected each day.

“There’s probably 22-25 different trades that will come in through different times,” said Project Manager Jose Orozco.

“The last five or six months will see the most workers on site,” said Strube.

With the importing of many more workers, people may assume that parking will become an even bigger problem — Clark said the busy site will not interfere with parking.

“I assure you the workers will not be taking student or teacher parking spaces,” said Clark.

“Most of them are parking on Lockwood; they are not allowed to park on Selma,” said Strube about where his contractors are parking. “But I’m sure they’re getting pretty creative with their parking.”

With parking becoming such a problem, there has even been talk about expanding the parking lots in the distant future.

“There are conceptual plans to expand the lots to multiple level decks,” said Strube. “That would have a big price tag to it, but it all depends on future bond issues. A lot of it also depends on priorities: parking or education facilities.”

Real talk about a new parking facility may be years from now, as the bond issued for the construction of the north wing was for $36 million. The contract to build the new building however, did not cost nearly $36 million.

“The contract to build the building was $22 million for workers and materials,” said Strube. The other portion of the bond goes to design, engineering, furniture and other things.

“There’s a lot of miscellaneous costs that go above and beyond the contractor’s cost,” said Strube.

Construction company S.M. Wilson was chosen for the job based on its bid and many other qualifications they had relating to the job.

Thirteen contractors originally submitted for the project, and they were eventually cut down to a list of six. These six companies were evaluated by a committee of six people, who looked for financial stability, management structure, safety records, convenient schedule and their experience in working with other schools around teens and children. S.M. Wilson was chosen for its qualifications in all of these fields but specifically for its experience in working with working around students in other schools.

Some of S.M. Wilson’s main goals for the construction are to keep the historic nature as a theme for the exterior, but also to update the interior to modern standards. Another huge priority of theirs is to meet the August 2012 deadline. In order to meet their deadline project managers require the contractor to give a monthly master schedule. They also have weekly check-ups, to look ahead and see that everything is running smoothly on site. The contractors are also given the school district calender so they can work around the schedule.

“We always try to keep a line of communication between the architects, contractors, construction managers and administration to make sure everything is running smoothly,” said Orozco.

Once the construction is finished, “certain things won’t 100 percent,” said director of construction Raymond Prokop. “We deal with those things all of the time. Its no big deal and it’s nothing we can’t fix in a day or two.”

Strube said any such problem will never interfere with the daily routine. “There will never be a problem too big that we can’t fix over the weekend, or while the students are away.”

Strube added the new wing will be open and the August 2012 deadline will be met. “We’ve never failed to deliver the opening of new facilities. That’s what we’ve promised to the good people of Webster Groves.”

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