While new Illinois legislation provides strict parameters for the delivery of school projects using a Design-Build delivery model, many Illinois school districts have realized the benefits of this approach with a less burdensome structure and more in line with the spirit of traditional school procurement laws.

Located in River Grove, Rhodes School District 84.5 (the District) leveraged the simplicity and accountability provided through Wight’s Design Led-Design Build (DLDB) model for their recent $16M Early Childhood Addition and Renovation to Rhodes School. Successfully implemented with two previous projects, the District appreciated the partnership and flexibility of the DLDB approach that allowed them to efficiently achieve their goals. One of the key benefits of Wight’s DLDB approach is that school districts do not cede control over scope refinement and quality decisions to the contractor early in the design process.

One of the key benefits of Wight’s DLDB approach is that school districts retain control over scope refinement and quality decisions.

Completed from June 2022 through August 2023, the early childhood education-focused improvements allow educators to maximize the use of the space and provide more resources to serve their students. The work includes eight dedicated early learning classrooms and a light-filled corridor for collaborative and skills development-focused learning. A central area with a library and adjacent outdoor learning spaces is seamlessly integrated with the interior spaces.

Partnership was paramount in bringing this space to life and aligning limited financial resources to achieve the greatest impact. Wight’s unique DLDB approach provided peace of mind for the District through accountability and flexibility to accelerate the project while still in decision-making mode. With the District, design, and construction teams working together as one unit, the project was able to realize added value both inside and out. By maintaining control over decisions throughout the process, the team was able to capture over $500,000 of added value by expanding the scope to include site improvements, an outdoor classroom space, exterior lighting upgrades for enhanced safety and security, renovations to the existing library space, flooring enhancement, and lighting upgrades to increase energy efficiency.

In DLDB, the architect and builder work together to collaborate with the school district from inception to completion to maintain design goals without delays or added costs, while still realizing maximum cost certainty. Under the new legislation, school districts miss out on opportunities to realize cost savings and add value back into the project as the work develops. When it comes to something as important as enhancing the learning environment for students, districts should maintain control over their project from start to finish.

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