Can plans from previous schools be re-used, or are we starting from scratch?

The short answer is that most of our designs are old and we therefore need new architectural plans. Depoali Middle School is our most recently designed school, and that design is now a decade old. Our elementary school designs are older still, and our high school designs are about 20 years old. The new middle schools will be able to update and reuse a lot of the design from Depoali which will save some costs, but the new elementary and high schools will need an almost total redesign. After each of these “prototype” schools is built then, we can and will save significantly by reusing the same general architectural design, but will still need to make changes based on site-specific differences.

Longer answer: Many factors combined call for redesigning and engineering new schools. Codes change; for instance, there have been one significant building code change and two significant energy code changes since we built Depoali, our most recently-built school, necessitating compliance changes. Equipment and construction materials change as well, and must be re-drawn into blueprints. Educational models change, necessitating bigger changes to school design to account for smaller class sizes, more programs, science equipment and labs, libraries, and even computer labs are getting smaller and (in some cases) changing completely. No two sites are the same, so plans must account for different land layouts, access points, topography, adjacencies, utilities and access, and soils (which can change the foundation). Architect fees are typically 8%-10% of the estimated construction cost for a brand new design for new construction (on public and private projects alike) – this will be the range we expect to pay for the first new elementary and high school. We’re budgeting for a 7% fee for new middle schools since there are some parts of the Depoali design that we can re-use. We then budget about 5% for each school after that (“site-adapt” fee). Part of that fee is for construction administration (making sure the school is built as it was designed). As construction costs rise, though, the architect fee will go down as a percentage of overall cost (on high schools, for example, new architectural plans and engineering will be a smaller percentage of the overall construction cost).


Examples of specific reasons new plans are needed:


·       New site planning and design including parking analysis to meet current jurisdictional ordinances.

·       Complete new code analysis for Area, Construction Type and Exiting due to Code Change.

·       Educational Specifications & Program changes from new revised Ed Spec. Includes elimination of some spaces and additions of others which will drive some reconfiguration, which revises  the floor & reflected ceiling plans, interior elevations, potentially exterior elevations, finish schedules, door hardware schedules, etc..

·       Confirmation of all components/materials/systems meet current WCSD standards including security standards (revised single point entrance and secure perimeter requirements).

·       Reworking design to modify due to Value Engineering/Constructability analysis/Conformance with CMAR.

·       Coordination of other disciplines and CMAR due to any and all modifications due to conformance process/value engineering process/constructability review process.

·       Redrafting entire building all documents from AutoCADD to REVIT to be able to do BIM –Three dimensional conflict resolution.



·       New seismic zone calculation (the county is no longer one seismic zone as in old codes, but broken down into almost site-by-site requirements).

·       Modifications required by Code Change including new requirements for schools being required to be “Risk Category III- Structure” (results in very high wind loads).

·       Potential changes due to differing soils conditions from other, existing school sites (e.g., Depoali).

·       Configuration changes that may be required due to Architectural changes from Ed Spec revisions.

·       Detail changes required due to materials system modifications (such as change to running block).

·       Redrafting entire building all documents from AutoCADD to REVIT to be able to do BIM –Three dimensional conflict resolution.

Mechanical/ Plumbing

·       Completely new design for ground source well field due to different site and soil thermocondutivity.

·       Modifications required by Code Changes.

·       Complete Energy Code analysis due to two code changes since Depoali and modifications required to make it compliant.

·       Analysis and modifications required in air delivery systems to add economizers on all equipment (new requirement).

·       Plumbing fixtures changes to assure lead free brass and bronze is compliant.

·       Heat Pump systems redesign (including heat pump closets redesign) as Depoali heat pumps have been a maintenance issue.

·       Redrafting entire building all documents from AutoCADD to REVIT to be able to do BIM –Three dimensional conflict resolution.



·       Completely new lighting system design from fluorescent to LED system (necessitates redesign of approximately one third of overall design).

·       Lighting system redesign will drive some power system redesign and service feed, main switchgear and panels configuration redesign due to lower power use.

·       Completely new Site Lighting design.

·       Data systems updating from old data standards to new ones, including differing smart board requirements.

·       Redesign of communication system design due to standards revisions and digital upgrades.

·       Mechanical coordination due the HVAC systems modifications

  • Redrafting entire building all documents from AutoCADD to REVIT to be able to do BIM –Three dimensional conflict resolution.