Backed by a multimillion-dollar referendum, Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove wanted to maximize funds to reimagine their two high school facilities – Downers Grove North and Downers Grove South. Wight & Company’s Design Led-Design Build approach helped District 99 complete a multi-phase addition and renovation project at each high school one year earlier than traditional models to realize a substantial value benefit. Unlike traditional delivery methods, the team was focused on creative solutions to add scope rather than removing scope through traditional value engineering exercises often experienced with independent designers and construction managers. The team truly focused on exploring ways to deliver greater value within the MFP framework and deliver outcomes greater than expected when the planning began.
Through inherent efficiencies of working with one team responsible for overall project delivery, the District was able to address more of the original master facilities plan (MFP) objectives than was originally thought possible, while at the same time remaining within the established funding approved by voters and staying true to the project goals. With emphasis on teamwork, accountability, and trust, the team achieved extraordinary value for the students, staff, and community
Aggressive scheduling strategies and accelerated decision making enabled the project to avoid annual construction cost escalation and extended general conditions costs estimated at an approximate value-benefit of $4.4 million. Overall, through enhanced coordination, early budget certainty, and emphasis on delivering value the 2018 Referendum Program achieved a value-benefit of approximately 19.7% of the ballot request – all within the framework of the approved District 99 MFP
The Downers Grove North campus is home to the original Downers Grove High School constructed in 1928. Like many high schools of that era, the building underwent several additions over the decades to accommodate a continuously growing population. The result was a dense and landlocked site, with a proud history left largely engulfed by subsequent building additions. The redesign for this location centered around urban strategies, where square footage could be most effectively used, creating a bright and open student learning commons, home to a variety of student resources. Additions that once enveloped the original high school building were removed, uncovering the rich history of the campus, and restoring the original 1928 building as the centerpiece of the school.
Downers Grove South High School existed as a sprawling campus with several buildings’ wings terminating into one another, described by students as “factory-like” and “blocky”. Due to its sprawl, core common spaces existed at opposite ends of the building from one another, limiting the synergy between them and putting a heavy burden on hallway traffic. The new design used sweeping, curved additions to soften the stocky build of the school and connected functions that were previously disengaged from one another. A new student learning commons, built in the existing courtyard at the heart of the school, serves as a hub that connects students to programs and resources.