Over the past several months Hardypond has made enormous progress at Reiche Elementary School. The team had to modify the project schedule because of permitting delays and what was already a complex logistical plan had to evolve into something more like a meticulously choreographed ballet. Hardypond excels at project management and knows how to put the work in up front so that things can run smoothly on the job site. Working in an elementary school meant the stakes were even higher as a top priority for the team was to keep the disruptions to the kids and staff to a minimum. Not an easy task when the plan calls for cutting trenches throughout the entire first floor of the school! Nevertheless, having set the stage in the fall of 2021, Hardypond was ready to hit the ground running in 2022!
“I’m so proud we’re doing it! It took us a long time to get here,” shares Hardypond President Deirdre Wadsworth. “From the beginning it has been a very complex project and with the delays we wondered if it was still possible. It took a lot of creativity to come up with a plan. It’s not the original plan, but in the end it’s a plan that will get the same product to the kids: a better school.”
One of the first orders of business was to redo a block of rooms on the second floor, including four second-grade classrooms, a literacy room, and a social worker’s office. The work included upgrading all the systems – such as electrical, fire and sprinklers, and HVAC – as well as reconfiguring the space into dedicated classrooms and adjunct rooms, and updating all the finishes. The team was able to finish the work on this section of the school right on schedule so the custodial staff and teachers had time to set up their classrooms before the April break and actually enjoy their week off!
April break was no vacation for Hardypond, however, but rather an opportunity for the team to shift their worksite to a new area of the school and keep the renovation ball rolling! This new phase of work centered on four kindergarten classrooms and one pre-K classroom. These classrooms also received updates to the fixtures and systems as well as a very important improvement: plumbing. Each classroom is now outfitted with bathrooms and a sink, a crucial upgrade that will support the learning of Reiche’s youngest students. New millwork and cubbies for the kids rounded out the improvements to these classrooms.
Summer has also been a time for Hardypond to really dive into working on the core of the project – the center of the building where the library is located. It was a large production to move the library – all the books and materials had to be packed up before the end of school – but with the space clear, the Hardypond team could get to work. “We started the day school was out because we need all the time,” said Wadsworth. In preparation for this phase of work, Hardypond made sure the team was organized, sub contractors were lined up, expectations were clear, and communication channels were open.
This has been the most complicated portion of the project; the school had to be cut up into a million pieces before it could be put back together again. The center of the building is a sunken area open for two stories. While an interesting design, it created noise issues for students and staff. Among the many things Hardypond is updating in this space, the new walls will block off the second floor, which is an important safety upgrade. With walls now separating the spaces, a fire would not be able to spread easily. The safer space will still maintain some of its open feel with windows overlooking the library. The center of the school is also the central hub where all the systems (plumbing, electrical, sprinklers) connect. The Hardypond team has been doing a lot of trenching and structural work – cutting and sawing the foundation slab – to support the upgrades made throughout the school. This, along with updates to the classrooms surrounding the library will be wrapped up in time for students to start school this fall.
Reiche Elementary School is also home to a community center with a swimming pool, another space Hardypond has updated over the summer. To accomplish this, the pool was drained over one weekend so Hardypond could stage a big metal scaffolding matrix up to the ceiling in order to replace the life safety system – smoke detectors, heat detectors, fire alarms – as well as the lighting. These upgrades, while a temporary inconvenience to the community, made the space safer for people to be in. Since the community center is run by the city and not the school, everything had to get back up and running by July 14th for summer recreation programs.
It has been a busy summer for everyone at Hardypond! With the start of school around the corner, Hardypond is working hard so the spaces are ready for the students, teachers, and school staff. While the project will not be completely finished, kids will come back to a completely different school this fall! Hardypond will continue the work of renovating the remaining classrooms.
Stay tuned for another update!