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The Heights Building

After 42% enrollment growth over the past decade, Arlington Public Schools (APS) to get additional seats for increased student population in Northern Virginia.

Advanced Planning essential for complex structure and design of The Heights Building

Gilbane served as construction manager at-risk (CM at-Risk) for The Heights Building in Arlington, Virginia. This high profile, multi-story secondary school includes four terraces, a green roof, classrooms, labs, music rooms, gym, cafeteria, media center, auditorium, soccer field, hardscape plaza and a parent drop off lane. Located in a highly visible, urban site in the Rosslyn neighborhood, The Heights Building has a unique cascading design that fosters collaboration and inclusion between The Shriver Program and the H-B Woodlawn program. A cascading stair runs through the center of the building to provide quick access to each of the building’s floors. Roof terraces are incorporated on each level, creating access to additional open space a small urban site can’t typically provide.

Early involvement leads to success during preconstruction

Early involvement in the project was an integral part of the project’s success. Gilbane was engaged with the project during preconstruction, using Lean Construction principles such as Advanced Planning and Scheduling, to look proactively at schedule risks and gain an in-depth understanding of each company’s role throughout the life of the project. During this process, the abatement and demolition of the century-old, multi-story existing Wilson School building was identified as a key milestone. Gilbane collaborated with the State of Virginia, Arlington County, Arlington Public Schools (APS), and a third party monitor to remediate existing asbestos from the original school building. The original building included multiple additions, varying in age, which made the remediation process more complex. Careful planning and protection measures were put in place to ensure the preservation and removal of historic fabric from the building, including the salvage of exterior masonry, for reuse in the new construction.

The complex layout and design of the structure provided another opportunity for early planning. The urban setting, in addition to the technical complexities of the design, minimized the staging and laydown space available during construction.  During the Advanced Planning and Scheduling session, the team determined that a large tower crane would be needed for the concrete placement and steel erection. However, the team determined that based on the limited capacity of the tower crane many of the large steel members would need to be spliced. This decision reduced the need for an additional tower crane, which in turn decreased costs, improved efficiencies and created a simplified, safer site.

Client Value

The delivery method you choose for your project can greatly affect the overall construction process, from preconstruction through completion. As APS transitioned to a CM at-Risk delivery model for the first time, Gilbane guided the team through the learning curve. It was essential to show the cost efficiencies and transparency that could be gained through the use of this delivery method compared to a typical design-bid-build model. Early package release and open book GMPs were just two of the benefits gained from using CM at-Risk, allowing the project to break ground as quickly as possible.