Boom Time

Education construction reached a record high in 1997, and is projected to remain vibrant through 2000.

Reflecting the need for more and improved education facilities to meet burgeoning enrollments, create more conducive learning environments and address new program requirements, the nation's schools and universities completed a record amount of construction in 1997-reaching nearly $20 billion.

Fueled by a significant increase in new K-12 construction, total spending on new facilities, modernization and retrofit, and additions to existing buildings grew approximately 10 percent to $19.92 billion in 1997, compared to $18.19 billion in 1996, according to American School & University's 24th annual Official Education Construction Report. The amount of education construction is projected to remain vibrant through 2000, approaching $63.47 billion to be completed over the next three years.

The AS&U survey, which has been the bellwether report documenting education construction activity for almost a quarter of a century, actually started collecting data on school and university construction in 1950 for the 1949 year (see "Editor's Focus," p. 8). After a decade or so of yearly surveys, data began being compiled sporadically until industry demand prompted AS&U to start collecting data annually again. The annual reports once again surfaced with information on education construction completed in 1974, and data has been collected and published every year since.

Having the longest-running historical database on education construction for almost 50 years, AS&U's Official Education Construction Report offers vital information and identifies trends shaping the future of school and university planning, design and construction projects.

How dollars are being spent The impetus for the record amount of education construction spending is the flurry of new K-12 construction, which skyrocketed 24 percent in 1997 to $6.11 billion from $4.92 billion in 1996. School districts continue to try and keep up with a growing pupil population, crumbling buildings, and changing program and technology demands.

Total school construction spending grew by 13 percent to $12.39 billion from $10.96 billion in 1996. This is the second year of a strong rebound of K-12 construction activity, which reverses a slight downward trend reported in 1994 and 1995.

While new school construction spending rocketed to new highs, it only accounted for 49 percent of all school construction. The remainder was spent on adding to and modernizing existing schools. This comes as no surprise since school districts historically have had more success securing dollars for modernization, retrofit and additions than for totally new construction, which typically carries a much higher price tag.

Four-year colleges completed a record amount of construction in 1997, spending $6.23 billion (a 14-percent increase from 1996). The amount of 2-year-college construction completed in 1997 decreased significantly to $1.29 billion compared to $1.75 billion in 1996 (a 36-percent drop from 1996). As is typical with colleges, the majority of dollars spent are for new buildings. Approximately 71 percent of the dollars spent on construction by 2-year colleges and 55 percent by 4-year institutions were for new buildings.

Survey methodology In December 1997, a detailed questionnaire was mailed to chief business officers at the nation's school districts and colleges, and basically asked two questions: -Did you complete any construction during the past year? -Will you complete any construction in the next three years?

Administrators answering "yes" to either question were asked to provide a variety of details on the amount being spent, the type of construction being done (new, modernization or addition), and the expected completion date. All respondents involved with new and retrofit construction were askedto provide additional information on each project. Responses were separated by i nstitution type, region of the country and institution size, and projected across the education universe.

Deciphering the data Basic findings of the Official Education Construction Report are summarized in Table 1. Total construction completed by the nation's schools and universities topped $19.92 billion in 1997. Approximately 53 percent ($10.47 billion) was spent on new construction. Of the remaining dollars spent, modernizations accounted for 26 percent ($5.20 billion), and additions to existing schools made up 21 percent ($4.24 billion).

The most significant portion of total education construction spending is done by school districts. Of the $12.39 billion of school construction completed in 1997, 49 percent ($6.11 billion) was for new facilities, 29 percent ($3.57 billion) for additions to existing buildings and 22 percent ($2.71 billion) for modernizations. The amount spent on retrofit projects in 1997 by school districts was virtually identical to what was spent the prior year.

Total college construction spending in 1997 increased by 4 percent to $7.53 billion from $7.24 billion in 1996. New buildings accounted for 58 percent ($4.35 billion) of the construction dollars. The remainder was spent on modernizations (33 percent, or $2.49 billion) and additions to existing buildings (9 percent, or $677 million). This represents a slight change in philosophy by colleges-although a majority of the total construction dollar still is being spent on new construction, a larger percentage is being allocated to improve existing buildings than in past years.

A look ahead Educational administrators are optimistic about future construction activity, projecting $63.47 billion worth of projects over the next three years. Table 2 details the amount and type of construction projected to be put in place through 2000, and breaks down data by type of institution and type of spending. Future construction activity is expected to grow by 26 percent over estimates made by administrators in last year's survey.

School districts are largely responsible for the glowing expectations on the amount of construction to be put in place over the next three years. It is projected that $48.30 billion worth of projects will be completed by 2000. Approximately 47 percent of the money will be for new construction; modernizations will account for 28 percent; and additions to existing buildings will make up the remaining 25 percent of the projected amount.

Colleges have a much more conservative estimate of the amount of construction to be completed over the next three years, projecting to put in place $15.16 billion worth of projects over this time. Four-year colleges expect to spend $10.74 billion, and 2-year institutions are anticipating completing $4.41 billion worth of construction. While 4-year-college projections are down from last year's estimates, 2-year colleges expect to see a 13-percent increase in the amount of construction to be completed. As is traditionally the case, the majority of dollars spent by colleges will be on new construction. More than 71 percent of 2-year-college and 55 percent of 4-year-college construction will be on new buildings.

As illustrated in last year's report, school and university administrators historically have underprojected the amount of construction expected to be completed in future years, often by double-digit percentages. If this trend holds true, the large amount of education construction activity taking place through 2000 will have major implications on local, state and, most likely, federal economic pictures.

For those interested in documenting the trail of education construction over the years, a number of tables and graphs are included in this report. One of these is Table 3, which looks at the amount and type of education construction completed over the past five years. The increases in spending over the past two years come after five successive years of level spending on education construction.

Hot spots of activity Table 4 examines where construction is taking place across the nation and reports expenditures in each of the nation's 10 regions (refer to map on page 22). The table is broken down by school districts, 4-year colleges, 2-year institutions and all education.

Significant construction activity was reported in a number of regions of the country, accounting for the majority of spending in all segments of education. For example, three regions put in place more than 52 percent of all education construction in 1997. Regions 5 (Great Lakes states), 6 (South Central) and 9 (Southwest) were responsible for much of the activity completed during the year.

These same three regions did more than 50 percent of all school construction in 1997. Add Regions 7 (Central Midwest) and 3 (Mid Atlantic) and the percentage jumps to 71 percent of the school construction completed in 1997 taking place in these five regions. Much of the activity in these regions can be attributed to the school-age population boom and/or the need to spend significant dollars to improve crumbling buildings.

A majority of college construction in 1997 was concentrated in just two regions of the country. Regions 5 and 9 put in place 40 percent of all 4-year-college construction and 54 percent of all 2-year-college construction. Region 2 also completed a significant amount of 4-year- and 2-year-college construction, representing 13 percent and 11 percent, respectively, of the activity.

Region 5 was the single most active constructing region, putting in place $4.15 billion worth of education facilities. The second most active region was Region 9, which spent $3.90 billion, followed by Region 6, which put in place $2.25 billion worth of construction.

Table 5 details construction put in place by region of the country, and is broken down by spending on new facilities and the amount allocated for additions and modernizations.

For example, a majority of regions spent more of their construction dollars on new projects. Six of the 10 regions (1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9) favored new construction, while the remaining regions (2, 3, 8 and 10) spent more on adding to and modernizing buildings. The spectrum of regional construction by type of spending varies from Region 9, which allocated 66 percent of its dollars to new construction, to Region 2, which spent just 19 percent of its money on new facilities.

In further defining how the K-12 construction dollars were split, Table 6 breaks out regional spending and the percentage of dollars allocated to new, addition and modernization projects. School districts in only three regions (1, 6 and 9) spent more than 50 percent of their construction dollars on new facilities. Additions to and modernization of existing buildings were the predominant forms of construction in every other region.

Getting hold of the future Over the next three years, record amounts of education construction are projected to be completed. Table 7 examines construction by region through 2000 for school districts, 2-year colleges, 4-year institutions and all education. Region 9 is projected to complete the most education construction through the end of the millennium-approximately $15.45 billion is expected to be spent. Following Region 9 is Region 5, which is projecting to spend $11.59 billion on construction.

Region 6-which projects $6.85 billion will be spent over the next three years-will be the third most active constructing region. These three regions will account for 53 percent of all education construction activity through 2000.

To find out how the school construction dollars are projected to be split over the next three years, consult Table 8. The same three regions (5, 6 and 9) that will be doing the majority of all education construction also are expected to do the bulk of all school construction (55 percent). New construction will account for only 47 percent of the money spent on facilities through 2000. Five regions (4, 6, 7, 8 and 10) will concentrate more than half of their dollars on new facilities.

Table 9 looks at how the college construction dollars will be split over the next three years. Regions 2, 5 and 9 will be doing the majority of college construction (approximately 50 percent). Although new facilities will dominate in most of the regions, three areas of the country (2, 3 and 9) will be spending more than 50 percent of their dollars on adding to or modernizing existing facilities.

Cost of new schools How much does a new school cost, and what does it include? Tables 10 and 11 break down costs, amenities and other elements of new school buildings. Among the findings:

-The median new public elementary school is constructed for 600 pupils, provides 110 square feet per student, and costs $120.24 per square foot for a total price of $7.2 million. At an average size of 62,800 square feet, it contains 23 classrooms.

-The median new public middle school is built for 725 students, provides 129 square feet per pupil, and costs $105.68 per square foot for a total cost of $10.5 million. With 30 classrooms, the average size of the typical middle school is 100,000 square feet.

-A typical high school built in 1997 accommodates 750 students, provides 153 square feet per pupil, and costs $96.35 per square foot for a total price of $15.2 million. The average size of the typical high school is 120,500 square feet with 41 classrooms.

The survey also examines the type of facilities featured in new elementary, middle and high schools, as well as the percentage of schools reporting such facilities (Table 11). In addition, current information is compared with data from 1995 and 1996.

Two areas regularly examined in the survey are air conditioning and carpeting in new school buildings (see sidebar, p. 38). In 1997, new elementary, middle and high schools air-conditioned between 87 and 88 percent of their space. When compared to last year's survey, middle schools and high schools increased their use of air conditioning in new buildings (88.4 percent from 87.5 percent and 87.2 percent from 86.1 percent, respectively). The incidence of air conditioning in new elementary schools dropped slightly from 88 percent in 1996 to 87.2 percent in 1997.

The incidence of carpeting in new schools shrunk considerably. In elementary schools, the use of carpeting in 1997 dropped to 49 percent of new space from 60 percent the year before. Carpeting's use in new middle schools is even less common, dropping to 44 percent of space from 60 percent reported in last year's survey. High schools also reduced their use of carpeting in new construction to 27 percent of space from 40 percent the year before.

Review of retrofit costs and projects Adding to the information supplied for the first time ever last year on school and university retrofit costs, the current survey includes additional data on wiring and cabling in modernization projects. Keep in mind that arriving at comparable data in regard to retrofit projects is very difficult, at best, because each project is so different. For example, one school may consider interior painting and carpet replacement a typical retrofit, while another may only consider a total building modernization as meeting the requirement.

With these limitations in mind, this year's survey gathered data on the types of retrofits put in place by schools and universities in 1997, as well as their related costs. Table 12 includes median costs and types of retrofits performed for elementary, middle and high school modernization projects. Table 13 details information on college retrofit projects.

The typical middle school retrofits more than twice the amount of space than what is done at the elementary- or high-school level (80,500 square feet vs. 40,000 square feet at elementary schools and 39,000 square feet at high schools). The large amount of space being retrofit by the average middle school also translates into more money being spent on improvements than elementary and high schools ($2 million per middle-school retrofit compared to $974,000 at the elementary level and $504,000 at high schools).

In higher education, 4-year-college retrofit projects encompass more than twice the amount of space than their 2-year counterparts (40,000 square feet compared to 19,000 square feet). Four-year colleges also spend significantly more on total project cost than 2-year colleges ($1 million for an average 4-year-college upgrade compared to $300,000 at a 2-year college).

The predominant forms of building retrofits at both schools and universities are electric, HVAC, lighting and painting/interior trim upgrades. School districts also report a high incidence of plumbing improvements, while colleges document a large number of carpeting installations.

When retrofitting for technology, school districts most often install a combination of Category 5 and fiber-optic cabling. Twisted pair, although considered inferior to Category 5 and fiber-optic cabling, still is used for many K-12 technology infrastructure installations.

The retrofit data supplied should be used with caution. As mentioned, because the definition of a typical retrofit varies so greatly from one institution to the next, the numbers provided should be used more for informational purposes than as a comparative database. Your retrofit costs may vary greatly depending on the size, scope and type of project, as well as region of the country you are located.

For information on obtaining a complete report, contact Molly McKane, (913) 967-1959.

Other surveys, including AS&U's exclusive M&O cost study, privatization survey, salary survey and residence hall construction report, are available on AS&U's website-www.asumag.com.

Complete survey results also can be ordered through the website.

Once a stretch of prairie with a former coal mine beneath it, an 80-acre site in Louisville, Colo., is being transformed into a school campus for the Boulder Valley School District. The Monarch K-8 School opened last September, and Monarch High School is due to open this September.

In a collaborative effort between the school district and Boulder County communities, the campus is united in an environmental approach to landscape design. The site conserves water and cleanses runoff through the use of native grasses on the perimeter and by the creation of wetlands.

The landscaping, pedestrian paths, and site furnishings link the two schools' styles of architecture and shared features, such as athletic fields and the bus dropoff area. A paved community plaza and amphitheater will be used for outdoor learning, gatherings and performances.

The city of Louisville contributed $400,000 to road improvements and for the campus itself, including providing seating and lighting, and extending the bike path from the underpass to the campus path system.

Design Concepts performed planning and landscape architectural services; Huxley, Salisbury & Associates designed the elementary school; and Klipp Collussy Jenks DuBois Architects designed the high school.

Overcrowding in residence halls has contributed to the need for a student housing project at Drury College, Springfield, Mo. The project, now in Phase II construction, was the result of a campus design competition that will create an academic village on campus.

The college, which sits in the middle of the city's historic Midtown neighborhood, is situated in an area noted for its Victorian houses and low-density layout. A major point of the design criteria was that the proposal had to blend with the surrounding neighborhood, as well as Drury College itself.

The academic village of student residences and academic space blends with the community's architecture, yet offers a contemporary vision of college life. The plan features cluster-, cottage- and townhouse-style buildings, complete with a community building at the center. A mix of building types with quadrangles, open spaces and courtyards creates a small-town feel.

The village, which opened for partial residence last fall and is currently under Phase II construction, was designed by Elness Swenson Graham Architects.

A plan to resolve overcrowding at the elementary-school level and provide space for projected enrollment increases resulted in the new Easton Intermediate School, Pa. Named F.L. Olmsted School, the two-story, 148,000-square-foot facility contains two identical 625-student public schools. The schools share centrally located core facilities, but each has its own separate entrance and administration area.

Each academic wing houses 25 general classrooms in three- and four-room clusters, science and computer labs, and music and art studios. Shared space includes a centralized library/media center, a high-school-sized and divisible gymnasium with bleachers and a stage, and a cafetorium and kitchen that are zoned for after-hours community use.

Conservation features include interior corridor walls of maple-veneer panels to reduce maintenance; digital HVAC controls; and motion-activated lighting with electronic ballasts and high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs.

The new building is part of an 80-acre educational campus that includes an elementary, junior high and high school. The project was completed last fall by Earl R. Flansburgh + Associates.

The new Rutgers University Science and Engineering Resource Center II will divide the main campus area into west and east quadrangles and reorganize the Piscataway, N.J., campus.

The objectives of the $10.2 million, 53,000-square-foot building are to contribute a new sense of focus and organization to the campus, as well as serve the research and learning needs of students and the community. To support these two purposes, the building includes classrooms, office space and laboratories, all prewired to accommodate connection to the campus network, and designed for interfacing media with instruction. Also included are interactive lecture halls, and a 500-seat interactive auditorium in which each seat is wired for laptop connectivity. Included in the facility is the computer-services department and a math science learning center. Computer services feature a general-access lab, a multiplatformed computer-resource center with 200 computer stations open 24 hours a day, a media-development laboratory and several microcomputer labs. The Math Science Learning Center also contains a tutoring center, media-observation rooms, and physics and biology labs with computer support.

The rectangular steel-frame building will feature fiber-reinforced concrete panels and red brick exterior consistent with surrounding buildings. The project is slated for completion at the end of August, and was designed by Kehrt Shatken Sharon Architects.

A new 5,680-square-foot performing-arts and multipurpose center completed last fall at Forsyth School, St. Louis, serves 320 students in grades pre-K to 6 and completes multiphase expansion on the private campus.

The center's entrance, featuring a two-story vestibule of glass, cast stone and brick, provides a prominent landmark for the main campus quadrangle and opens to the largest assembly space on the school campus.

An existing two-level multipurpose and classroom wing was demolished and replaced with the steel and masonry structure finished in brick and stone that matches the original construction. The addition complements the Williamsburg Colonial style of the existing brick and stone house with its high-pitched roof. The outdoor facade features brick archways capped individually with a keystone and commemorative brick pavers that line the walkway.

A band of one-story support spaces, including an office, concession area, storage and restrooms, lines one edge of the main space, separated by a low wall housing storage cubicles.

Paric was design/build general contractor, and Hastings & Chivetta Architects was architect.

The new law school building at Suffolk University, Boston, provides the school with an opportunity to reposition itself in the highly competitive law-school marketplace and to enhance its reputation regionally and nationally. The 293,000-square-foot building will house classrooms, a law library, moot court rooms, administrative and faculty offices, an alumni club and bookstore.

High-tech communication will be the theme of the 88,000-square-foot library, which will occupy the top three floors of the building and enjoy views to the surrounding Beacon Hill. Carrels and reading tables are equipped with computer ports, enabling the school's 1,700 students access to worldwide databases.

The building's amphitheater-style classrooms are designed to foster open discussion between students and professors. In addition, each seat will be wired for network connectivity. Larger classrooms will accommodate between 60 and 130 students, with smaller classrooms seating no fewer than 24 students.

Three moot court rooms are being planned, all with video recording systems. The largest courtroom will have five cameras and eight monitors and simultaneous video/transcription capability.

Tsoi/Kobus & Associates is architect/interior designer for the building, which is scheduled for completion in 1999.

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish