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Editor's Focus: Building it right

Sept. 1, 2014
When news of poorly built or designed school or university construction projects emerges, understand there are countless numbers of exceptional education facilities recently completed that are not making headlines.

Having just finished two days of judging education facilities projects for the upcoming Architectural Portfolio competition (published in November), this year’s jury focused a lot of attention on innovation, quality and “building it right.”

That’s what makes recent news such as a Texas high school having to spend millions of dollars to repair a recently completed facility so disturbing.

Last month, it was reported that the Allen Independent School District may have to spend up to $2 million to repair a two-year-old facility upon discovering “engineering failures” at its $60 million high school stadium. Inadequate support columns, weak connections and insufficient steel reinforcement in a retaining wall were among the deficiencies cited. Earlier this year, an analysis of two schools in Oklahoma destroyed by a tornado in the spring revealed significant construction errors and code violations.

This news follows a number of similar instances uncovered last year that cast a shadow over the education construction market, including neglected repairs and mistakes by contractors who renovated a Massachusetts high school that left district taxpayers saddled with approximately $1 million in unfinished work. And a lawsuit filed by the Philadelphia school district that cited “deficiencies in the drawings and specifications” by nearly two dozen architecture and design firms resulting in millions of dollars in facilities problems at Philadelphia schools.

While disturbing, problems such as these are not representative of the billions of dollars in education construction put in place every year. The majority of school and university construction projects completed today are expertly and carefully planned, designed and built. Administrators and architects work jointly to ensure the facilities they complete are welcome additions to the students, staff and community.

So when news of poorly built or designed school or university construction projects emerges, understand there are countless numbers of exceptional education facilities recently completed that are not making headlines. Buildings that are built right—providing outstanding learning environments and a community asset that will last long into the future.

About the Author

Joe Agron Blog | Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher

Joe Agron is the editor-in-chief/associate publisher of American School & University magazine. Joe has overseen AS&U's editorial direction for more than 30 years, and has helped influence and shape national school infrastructure issues. He has been sought out for comments by publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, ABC News and CNN, and assisted with the introduction of the Education Infrastructure Act of 1994.

Joe also authors a number of industry-exclusive reports. His "Facilities Impact on Learning" series of special reports won national acclaim and helped bring the poor condition of the nation's schools to the attention of many in the U.S. Congress, U.S. Department of Education and the White House.

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