Awards of Excellence 2019
Coakley & Williams Construction
Bancroft Elementary School

Bancroft Elementary School
Award of Excellence
Best Renovation

Project Team

DC Department of General Services - (Owner)
Ayers Saint Gross - (Architect)
Coakley & Williams Construction - (General Contractor)

Executive Summary

The architect approached the modernization by simplifying access to the school’s learning spaces on multiple levels with a strategic addition. Clustering students of similar age or curriculum with access to a shared common space encourages informal learning opportunities outside of the classroom. A learning garden in the east courtyard and outdoor classroom on second level provide an interactive outdoor learning experience for all ages. The shape of the building influenced by the path of the sun provides ample daylighting while maintaining energy efficiency. Louvered shading on the West side of the library helps block direct sun from the south side and allow natural light.

The additions to Bancroft’s historic 1923 and 1932 buildings are connected by “Calle Mayor”, a central spine linking the main levels of the school through ramps and elevators. Positioned along this connector are the key shared spaces - cafeteria, media center, multipurpose room and nature center -- treated as destinations along the inspiration of a meandering street of an old Spanish town. Beginning at the historic main entrance, this internal street follows the natural slope of the site, resolving the topography and linking the levels via ramps and elevators.

Stormwater management on site has been designed to teach students about the relationship of the Bancroft site to the watershed. The unique location of Bancroft Elementary School, poised between the urban hardscape of Mount Pleasant and the natural landscape of Rock Creek Park, offers the opportunity to dramatically show how water moves from the roofs of the buildings to a series of rainwater gardens. These man-made elements both slow and clean stormwater, minimizing impact to Piney Branch Creek and the larger watershed. This site has a stormwater management system built in to the site that is intended to create zero runoff and erosion into the adjacent park. Varying levels of depth throughout the project meet the requirements to hold the typical rainfall.

The Bancroft Elementary School playgrounds provide aesthetically pleasing, challenging and engaging play spaces for preschool and school age children in a space constrained by the urban school setting. Focusing on a natural playground look, we collaborated on a design using a mix of materials - natural and organic robinia wood playhouses for the younger children, high density polyethylene panels and pine posts on the more traditional composite slide structure and climber, GFRC balance logs, a transparent large scale net climber and parkour as well as a galvanized steel climbing unit for the older children. These materials - world renowned Corocord rope with steel core and patented process of heat induction to ensure long-lasting use, lifetime warranty high density polyethylene panels, hearty robinia wood and lifetime warranty galvanized steel posts - are designed to be long-lasting and low-maintenance. Important play elements were incorporated into both playgrounds - sliding, climbing, swinging, spinning, rocking, balance, sensory play, musical play and imaginative play - to provide continual fun and challenge for the large population of children. The field is infilled with Olive pits to provide a safe, organic and more efficient system for the users.

The construction schedule was shortened from 24 to 14 months due to design development, unforeseen site soil conditions, and required green construction in the landscape. Coordination of the interior and exterior completion was critical to give each trade enough time and access to complete their portions of work to achieve the deadline for school opening. Each team was engaged daily to make all trades aware of work taking place and sequence these items for completion.

As a large job in the middle of busy downtown Washington, we had to pour and grind the terrazzo in phases in order to always keep an egress open to other trades to move through the building and complete their work. This meant stopping and continuing the accent band in multiple locations as the phasing required. This had to be done with precision in order to achieve a nice, straight terrazzo accent band. This 17,200 square foot pour was made up of five terrazzo colors featuring long, monochromatic hallways accented with colorful alcoves. The subtle gray band running the length of the hallway provides an elegant contrast to the white marble field color.

Internal coordination between the two site teams to make sure access and egress were maintained while work was progressing was key to completing trades work. Subcontractors were bought out strategically to minimize change orders that come up when the work from two different trades butt up against each other.

Subcontractors were bought out strategically to minimize change orders that come up when the work from two different trades butt up against each other. For example, one subcontractor was used for the entire building envelope. This resolved any changes we may have otherwise had due to the any interactions between the framing, masonry and terra cotta panels used on the building exterior. This strategic approach saved the time and money resulting from changes and allowed the school to open on-time and under budget for the start of the school year.

Exterior work provided the biggest challenge to the scope as the systems required for the Exterior envelope were required to be in place prior to any interior finish work beginning. Early in the project, team leaders phased the new addition to provide maximum efficiency and building an exterior close in schedule to allow multiple interior trades to commence work early. The terra cotta rainscreen was imported to the United states and has very specific tolerances with no opportunity to quickly ship any errors. Field team members spent countless hours coordinating with windows and store front installers, their own brick foreman and masons, and any trade who impacted this install. Measurements and tolerances were less than 1/16th of an inch, which details the level of layout and adhesion to specifications on a project this large. The brick veneer and exterior improvements with precast coping is at all garden and Bio retention areas.

Data and IT included state of the art, interactive TV systems in each classroom, high speed internet and WIFI routing to the entire school and Exterior improvement areas. This effort was coordinated per DCPS regulations and included extensive coordination for the Security cameras, Entry doors, and monitoring system.

Mechanical, HVAC, plumbing and controls work included extensive pre-design work with the BIM coordination and overcame many challenges with routing of ductwork and piping in very challenging situations. Plumbing systems incorporated gang and single use bathrooms, parking garage drainage with oil grit separator, roof leader piping and a fully modernized kitchen to service the school. In addition to duct work and piping on the HVAC side, the rooftop units were strategically placed with mechanical courtyards to near zero visibility to the surrounding neighborhood, while providing enhanced efficiencies and providing maximum service to the allocated spaces. The mechanical system is fully operated by digital controls, providing troubleshooting and adjustments, while maintaining design temperature control within each space.


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