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When Dunlap Community Unit School District 323 in Dunlap, Ill., has needed to build or expand its schools over the past decade, it has looked to one construction manager to meet its needs. Dunlap’s newest school, Hickory Grove Elementary, is its fifth construction project since 2004 to be led by Mangieri Companies Inc. of Peoria, Ill.

Work on the $21.1 million, 97,000-square-foot school is more than 35 percent complete, with all of the footing, foundation and slab work on the site now in place. Ground was broken at the end of April 2011, load bearing masonry walls started in September, structural steel erection started in November and the project is on schedule to be finished in August 2012.

Like all of the school projects Mangieri has delivered for Dunlap and other districts in central Illinois, the Hickory Grove project is being built on a strict timetable. “With school projects there’s always a completion date you can’t move out regardless of the circumstances, so because of that we’ve needed to phase out both the design and bid process,” Senior Project Manager Chris Tyra says.

Mangieri Companies awarded contracts in three different phases, with a site work phase awarded in March 2011. That work was well underway by the time the site and building concrete bid in May. The remaining bid packages including the masonry, steel, M.E.P.’s, building shell, and interior work were awarded in July.  There were more than 40 different bid packages and more than 35 subcontractors will work on the project.

“This project reconfirms how important it is to have the construction manager on board prior to starting the design process,” Tyra adds. “Since this was bid in three different phases, it was critical that we worked with the architect as well as the owner during the entire design process. In addition, the design team made up of Wold Architects and Engineers as well as the Farnsworth Group have done an outstanding job on the project.  With a fast track project like this, it is imperative that we get answers to the questions in the field in a timely fashion, and Matt Bickel and his design team have done a great job with this.”

Working to complete the project along with Mangieri is a team of experienced subcontractors. “We have worked with 95 percent of the contractors on this job on previous projects,” Tyra says. “It is a task to finish a 97,000-square-foot building in 12 months – one thing we have going in our favor is that we have great subs on board.”

Functionality First

The new elementary school was designed with both district and community input to align with the district’s strategic objectives for providing 21st Century learning opportunities through an emphasis on teamwork, collaboration and shared leadership. 

The resulting facility will create small, grade-level learning communities centered about common resource areas where students and teachers can work independently, partner in small groups, or collaborate among several classes at once. Natural daylight, flexible and adaptable space, technology and acoustics are key elements used throughout the building’s design. 

A full complement of specialized spaces are planned for the classroom environment including dedicated rooms for music, art, parent/community volunteers, etc. Energy efficient building systems have been specified, and the building is master planned for future expansion to meet potential capacity growth needs of the district, Tyra says.

Firming the Ground

Soil conditions on site presented a significant challenge to the project. “Soil conditions at the building pad were extremely poor and we knew this going in from the soil borings completed prior to the design,” Tyra says. “However, our problems with the poor soil conditions were compounded with the wet spring we had and we were not able to get the building pad to pass compaction.

“In order for us to proceed, with recommendation from the geo-technical engineer, we proceeded with cement-stabilizing the entire building pad so we could proceed with footings and foundations.”

Poor soil conditions within the parking lot areas were also known about during the design phase, so the project team decided to change pavement details for the bid process.  The project team chose to include a tensar triax geogrid and 8 inches of CA-6 base material to use as the construction staging surface throughout the parking lots.  An additional six inches of CA-6 granular base will be installed prior to paving the parking lot next summer, Tyra says.

A Niche in Education

Mangieri’s first project with Dunlap School District 323 was Ridgeview Middle School completed in 2000. That project’s successful completion led to its being selected to build major additions to the high school in 2004, Dunlap Valley Middle School in 2007, another high school addition in 2009, and athletic facility upgrades in 2011.  

“We have been extremely lucky to work for a district like Dunlap CUSD 323 for so many years,” Tyra says.

Since 1999, Mangieri Companies Inc. has built 18 K-12 schools in central Illinois totalling more than $130 million. Tyra has personally managed 12 of those projects.

“Education projects have become a niche of ours, and we have a very good track record working with school districts in central Illinois,” Tyra adds. 

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