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  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.

To 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 plan for.”

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.

Eastern 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 Silver rating.

“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 resolution.

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 training.

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!


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