Estimating the “Pride of Capitol Hill”, Eastern High School |
How Did the Estimators at Turner Construction Do It?
To Tyron Pate, lead Pre-Construction manager for Turner Construction,
Washington, D.C. Eastern High School was a chance to bring the “Pride of
Capitol Hill” back to its grandeur. “My initial thought while walking the
Eastern High School Project the first time was what a magnificent historical
jewel to estimate and reconstruct, and what a once in a lifetime opportunity
it was to be involved with.”
This was the first of many site visits by Pate while estimating the project.
Eastern High School built in 1923 included extensive period woodwork, leaded
portico windows; terra cotta flooring and marble flooring in the main
stairway and detailed interior plasterwork. The renovation also included
extensive work to the auditorium where the auditorium’s original wooden
seats, along with the plasterwork, were to be restored. Two three-story
atriums adjoining the auditorium’s side entrances were to be enclosed with
barrel-vaulted skylights. A project of this magnitude required Pate’s
experience in historical renovations and also his and Turner’s relationships
with the historical restoration and subcontractor community surrounding D.C.
develop his estimate Pate used a 2-phase approach. “The school was huge and
laden with hazardous materials both on the surface and inter-twined into the
fabric of the school. I began to formulate my approach on how to estimate
this historical renovation for the things that were and were not discernible
to the eye,” says Pate. “The first phase was to mentally and systematically
estimate taking apart the interior finishes to make it structurally sound
and free of hazardous materials, leaving only the building facade and
structure with a few historic interior architectural features. The second
phase was to mentally and systematically estimate reconstructing the
interior in a respectful way that did not compromise the historical
fabric/integrity of Eastern High School.”
Pate relays, “The most difficult part in estimating a project like this is
determining the cost and the approach required to keep the historical fabric
of the project intact. In addition, you have to be able to research through
generations of drawings from the original historical drawings and all of the
renovations that the school went through of the last century. This is
essential to learn as much as you can of the building's structure and
construction in order to accurately determine the level of “unknowns” to
In addition, Pate initially setup a small estimating contingency for some
“unknowns”. “I spent numerous hours with a multitude of subcontractors doing
field surveying to better understand the “unknowns”. As I gathered more
information and data on the school “unknowns”, I was able to adjust my
contingency based on my survey discoveries.”
As a functioning high school it also had to be determined how to proceed
with construction during a school year. Pate had to prepare initial
estimates for two potential means of completing the project. The first
option was to complete the renovation in two separate phases while keeping
the students in school. The second option was looking at completing the
project by building a temporary facility in the athletic fields on campus
for the school population to reside for a period of 12 months while the
school was renovated and modernized. Because of the additional costs of
multiple and extended general conditions, it was actually less expensive to
relocate the school to a temporary facility composed of 54 trailers, then to
phase the project and complete it one half at a time.
High School would also be striving for a LEED® rating from the United States
Green Building Council (USGBC). This added another layer of complexity to
the estimate and project. At the beginning Pate and his estimating team
formulated a LEED scorecard that gave them a general idea of where they
intended to focus their effort to achieve the required points for a LEED
“LEED projects require you to consider the cost for more efficient
mechanical systems, FSC Forest Stewardship Council® woods, low VOC emitting
materials and commissioning, etc. While pursuing certain LEED credits may
have an initial negative impact on first cost, their life cycle costs must
be taken into consideration for the overall project goals. It's a constant
give and take with the design team as to which is the best/most economical
points to pursue,” says Pate.
The preliminary estimate for the project took one week with the final
estimate which had numerous iterations, taking over 4 months with
design-build sessions with Turner’s design partner Fanning Howey.
Turner Construction uses BIM (Building Information Modeling) as an
estimating tool on a number of jobs ranging from conceptual design through
construction in their offices nationwide. Turner has a full team of VDC/BIM
engineers within their pre-construction department tasked to help support
their efforts in all phases of a project beginning in concept and moving
forward through construction and operations. Turner makes every effort
possible to implement the use of BIM during any phase of their projects
particularly during the conceptual stage of design.
Pate and his team utilized BIM in the estimating process. Pate asserts,
“Teaming with the design team, Fanning Howey, I was able to utilize Fanning
Howey BIM model as a source for quantity extraction and cost estimating.
During each stage of the design I used Innovaya Visual Estimating to extract
quantities and link the Revit® components to line items found in our
Timberline cost database. This process reduced the quantity takeoff process
by nearly 40 percent allowing my pre-construction team to focus the majority
of their attention on constructability related issues.” In addition, BIM was
utilized successfully for virtual trade coordination and conflict
Turner Construction takes a software agnostic approach and tries to select
the best BIM tool for the specific situation. They use a variety of tools
and workflows utilizing Google SketchUp, Autodesk® Revit, Autodesk
Navisworks, Innovaya Visual Estimating, Synchro, Solibri, Vico Software, as
well as several other BIM tools. The company also uses Onscreen Takeoff by
On Center Software and Sage Timberline Office in their estimating.
Eastern High School reopened on August 25, 2010 with a ribbon cutting hosted
by Mayor Adrian F. Fenty and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee
along with more than 50 students, alumni, and city and school officials in
the renovated grand foyer. “The transformation of Eastern is spectacular,”
said Mayor Fenty. “You can see the care and attention to detail that the
architects and builders took while restoring the school.” Eastern High
School is well on its way to once again being, “The Pride of Capitol Hill”.
Students enjoy the latest in educational technology at Eastern. Just some of
the new academic features include state-of-the-art science and technology
labs, Internet and cyber cafes as well as a working ambulance in the new
health/science practical lab for real world emergency medical assistance
Eastern reopened for the 2010/2011 school year with only the Senior Class.
After that the school will enroll first time ninth grade students only for
the 2011-2012 school year, growing by one grade each year in order to
strategically design a rigorous, well-rounded high school experience for
every student. The school has a capacity of 1,100 students.
Tyron Pate looks back fondly on his experience with Eastern High School.
“The initial estimate for Eastern High School was within 1.4% of the final
estimate (GMP to Owner),” he remarked proudly!