Environmental Site Design
Founded in 1978, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School (SAES) is a co-educational independent day school, enrolling approximately 585 students in preschool-grade 12. On September 14, 2016, SAES dedicated its new 43,000 square-foot Student Center of which Nobis provided site design services. With a blessing from Bishop Mariann Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, the new facility was formally opened to the St. Andrew’s community; hundreds of students, faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and trustees, as well as Nobis Engineering employees, Jason Azar and Dana Clark, attended the event. The new Student Center comprises two gymnasiums — the new Lions Court and the renovated Holden Court — a fitness center, a dance studio, a student commons area, a café, a meeting and gathering space, a display space for student artwork, and a new home for the nationally renowned Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning. The Student Center was completed two years ahead of schedule. Nobis Engineering’s site design services complied with Environmental Site Design (ESD) requirements by integrating eight new micro-bioretention areas into the site.
Challenges/complexities faced during this project
Incorporating stormwater management and drainage to the existing site was a challenge; the site drained to a point on campus that had a limited outfall. There was only one 12” pipe draining the portion of campus that the student center was being built on. The pipe was undersized for the proposed developments runoff. This undersized pipe required the addition of an extended detention pond in addition to the full ESD stormwater facilities that were designed. A rework of the rear of the student center to accommodate the extended detention pond in addition to 5 biofilters posed a grading challenge. The client did not want huge retaining walls to make room for the additional SWM facility. Thus, a system of offline quality structures with flow splitters and the extended pond were created.
Additionally, the project needed to be phased to keep the existing gym functioning during construction and keep circulation on campus during school. This necessitated 5 distinct construction phases to be developed. Nobis staff worked with the client to carve out what work could be completed during the school year and what work needed to be done during breaks or the summer. Toward the end of construction, Nobis personnel spent numerous days onsite to help the project delivery team stay on track with the schedule. The Nobis staff aided the contractor in reviewing formwork for ADA compliance prior to placement of concrete to minimize the risk of rework as well as approve modifications to design elements “on the fly” to address site constraints.
Benefits to the Community
The Student Center has transformed the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School campus into a more integrated student experience. It provides improved recreational facilities and welcoming common areas where students can mingle during free periods and where students, staff and the community can gather for public events. The intent of the student center to enhance learning, the arts and athletics is met through the improvement of programs and open spaces. The new student center helps the school achieve its mission to inspire children in an exclusive community dedicated to exceptional learning. “In my 15 years, nothing has required more effort or brought me more joy than the Student Center project,” said Robert Kosasky, Head of School.
(Photo credit: Little)