Project architects for the new Wisconsin Dells High School promised an “aggressive” schedule for building the new school with an estimated completion date in time for the 2020-2021 school year.
Architects Steve Kieckhafer and Diana Davis attended the district’s school board meeting on Nov. 26 to inform the board of the schedule moving forward in designing and constructing the school. A referendum passed during the Nov. 6, 2018 election authorizing the construction of the about $60 million school, with a cost to taxpayers of about $33,685,000. The project is led by the firms of Architectural Design Consultants, Inc., Plunkett-Raysich Architects, LLP, and CG Schmidt.
The schedule provided by the architects runs from the election through August of 2019. It consists of four phases and details the regular occurrence of meetings to discuss elements of the design. Most months have two core group meetings, during which participants District Administrator Terry Slack, Wisconsin Dells High School Principal Hugh Gaston, and District Building and Grounds Supervisor Scott Walsh discuss the “day to day” issues related to the design, and one user group meeting, consisting of 6-8 department heads and upper-level decision makers. The schedule further provides for a monthly update to the school district’s board, and occasional one-off activities like school tours or staff interviews.
“Both the schedule and overall process is very aggressive,” Davis said.
The project is currently in what Davis called the Schematic Design Phase, during which the firms are gathering information about design needs and potential issues, and figuring out possible solutions. This phase lasts from Nov. 15, 2018, to March 8, 2019.
Among the steps taken during the Schematic Design Phase are reviewing the conceptual and refined floor plan and building site plan, touring Beaver Dam High School and Sun Prairie High School, conducting an image survey, and reviewing the exterior design.
“November is when things kicked off, and December we’ll continue gathering information,” Davis said. “We’re (going to decide) how is the building going to lay out on a broad level (and) what is it going to look like.”
The Design Development Phase begins in March of 2019 and lasts through May 10, 2019. During this phase, meetings will continue to focus on reviewing the interior and exterior design of the building, while also reviewing the needs for each individual space in the building. Some design elements and materials will be finalized during this stage.
Beginning in May the firms will begin the Construction Documents Phase. The groups will continue to meet to review technical building needs, while the architects will finalize construction documents and “get all of the process down on paper,” according to Davis. This phase will last from May 2019 through Aug. 4, 2019.
The final phase discussed at the board meeting is the Bidding Phase, which lasts from Aug. 4, 2019 through Aug. 22, 2019. During this phase bids will be reviewed and signed off on by decision makers.
“We will have earlier bid packets to get construction going… (including) excavating, site utilities, footings and foundations, (and) the underground bones of the building,” Davis said. “You should expect to see earth start moving in April… big steel beams and concrete floors in the summer… and in fall we start filling the box in.”
According to Slack, the schedule should allow for “keys” to the building to be presented to the district on Aug. 14, 2020, allowing the district 2-3 weeks to process moving into the building before the 2020-2021 school year begins.
The plan allows for the project to start before most of the other referendum projects, according to Kieckhafer, which should help alleviate the expected labor shortage due to the number of school referendums passing throughout the state. More than $1.4 billion of referendums were on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot in Wisconsin, with about 50 referendums authorizing construction in some form passing during the election.