June 2014

Printer-friendly version
PS&S Newsletter June 2014
From the Corner Office

From the Corner Office

By Anthony Sartor, CEO, and John Sartor, President and COO

One of the most important elements of the PS&S service offering is our work in education – specifically, helping to create state-of-the-art facilities that improve the educational experience for students, faculty, administration and staff.

Click to expand/collapse

Our commitment to top-flight design and providing technical and engineering expertise in the construction of college dormitories, classroom facilities, elementary and high schools, among other structures, continues to be a priority. It has established us as an industry leader.

As the design-build approach to school development and construction has evolved over the past several years, PS&S has been presented with many challenges, and opportunities. We’ve seized those opportunities. PS&S has contributed major design and engineering work to facilities at Montclair State University, Penn State University, Ramapo College and the State University of New York, Albany at the higher education level.

Our firm also is responsible for some of the highest-functioning and architecturally distinctive elementary, middle and high school structures across New Jersey, New York City and New York State.

Designing and building higher education facilities, in particular, have often involved unique challenges.

In the case of the new 2,000-bed dormitory located on the campus of Montclair State University, our team had to map a site plan for property sitting almost entirely on rock and that rested on a steep and difficult to develop incline.

The dormitory project at Ramapo required us to negotiate sensitive wetlands and meet strict building requirements. There were limited opportunities for the siting of the project. But the end result was a project that has earned the firm numerous awards for design and functionality. And we recently achieved LEED Gold certification for our 500-bed dormitory project at SUNY-Albany.

This month’s newsletter explores the progress we’ve made in our Education Market group and focuses on key projects. The Focus On feature examines design-build and the successes of PS&S’s Education Market group, under the direction of Mary Acciani. Our Case in Point details the efforts that went into the first of those projects, the much-anticipated A. Chester Redshaw Elementary School in New Brunswick.

For more information, please contact Anthony Sartor at asartor@psands.com, or John Sartor at jsartor@psands.com

View Printer friendly version

Focus On: Mary Acciani

In the old days, taking a public school or university construction project in New Jersey or New York from conception to completion could be a frustrating, time-consuming process.

With the transition to the design-build model, a move that has accelerated the process, PS&S – with its comprehensive full-service engineering and architecture capabilities – has become an industry leader in New Jersey and throughout the region.

Focus On: Mary Acciani

Click to expand/collapse

PS&S Vice President Mary Acciani, PE, CEM, GBE, directs the firm’s Education Market group. By changing the model to enable public entities to work directly with contractors who bring their partner engineers and architects into the picture from the beginning, the timing and delivery of public school and university projects has improved.

For example, under the old model, construction of the 2,000-bed dormitory and 600-seat cafeteria on the campus of Montclair State University, designed by PS&S as part of a design-build team, could have taken about five years to finish. With design-build, the timing was cut to 20 months, Acciani said.

In New Jersey, the Schools Development Authority builds public K-12 schools and is now using a design-build model. It lets bids, contracts with builders and monitors project progress and budget. SDA RFQ’s are very specific in terms of the school architectural layout, MEP systems and material and equipment specifications.

These are more specific than previous guidelines used under the design-bid-build model. Acciani said contractors, architects and engineers must select materials, manufacturers and equipment from an approved SDA list of specifications. Overall, however, design-build has streamlined the building cycle.

“It was more a question of refining some of the mandated requirements than anything else,” she said of the transition between designing K-12 schools for the NJSDA under the old model, and designing them now under design-build.

PS&S is currently working with the NJSDA on four design-build projects. They include the A. Chester Redshaw Elementary School in New Brunswick, the Elliott Street School in Newark, the Caruso School in Keansburg and Paterson’s P.S. 16. The Redshaw School is nearing completion, while construction on the Elliott Street School is ongoing. Design plans are currently underway for Caruso and P.S. 16. Additionally, the firm has contracted with the New York City School Construction Authority to design P.S. 317 in the Bronx. That project is design-bid-build and is currently out for bid.

Challenges in the education sector are unique. Timing of project completion is especially critical; delivery of a project has to be made on time or a school year could be lost. “If you miss an August deadline, you are typically out of it for a year,” Acciani said.

Acciani, a Ewing resident, leads a team of about 30 people in the MEP engineering group and works closely with architectural design and management, structural and geotechnical engineering, as well as civil and environmental engineering. She also heads the Go-to-Market Committee for the Education group. Prior to joining PS&S in 2009, she was Director of Planning and Construction at Rowan University. The PS&S connection was forged during the firm’s work on the development of Rowan’s co-generation facility.

“I was impressed with the work they did on that project,” Acciani. She welcomed the opportunity to shift from public to private sector, help build an Education team and mentor young engineers and architects. The firm’s expertise in both architecture and full service engineering, she said, gives it a decided advantage in winning design-build contracts.

“We’re able to work so effectively together because we’re all here in the same location and we work hard to avoid the siloed approach of many other firms,” she said.

For more information, please contact Mary Acciani at macciani@psands.com

View Printer friendly version

Case in Point: A. Chester Redshaw Elementary School, New Brunswick, N.J.

Case in Point: A. Chester Redshaw Elementary School, New Brunswick, N.J.

PS&S’s involvement with the design and construction of the new A. Chester Redshaw Elementary School was something new for the firm – its maiden voyage on a school construction project authorized under the New Jersey Schools Development Authority’s new design-build model.

Click to expand/collapse

“This was the first project out of the gate for the NJSDA design-build program in New Jersey,” said PS&S Vice President Mary Acciani, PE, CEM, GBE, who directs the firm’s Education Market group.

The NJSDA selected Hall Construction Company, Inc. as the design-builder of the facility, a pre-kindergarten through 5th grade school. PS&S partnered again with Hall Construction to win the new public school project. As lead A/E, the firm performed full architectural design, MEP and structural engineering services in bringing the much-anticipated school facility to completion.

The old Redshaw School had been demolished in 2006, with the promise of a more modern replacement that better met the needs of the district and its students. But a state moratorium on new school construction caused by funding shortages led to a protracted schedule of delays. In the interim, students had to attend classrooms located in trailers, makeshift schools without playgrounds.

Redshaw was the first of 10 school construction projects funded by the NJSDA in 2011 once funding was available, and ground broke on the new school in early 2013. The new school is scheduled to open this fall.

Ron Weston, Senior Director-Architecture who spearheaded the project for the firm, noted that because of their successful development formula, Hall Construction and PS&S were awarded four of the first six design-build contracts, including Redshaw, that were issued by the NJSDA.

The facility is a two-story, 135,000-square-foot structure designed for 900 students, a community school that will include 46 classrooms, 12 additional classrooms for special education, basic skills and small group instruction, a cafeteria, a multi-purpose room with stage, gymnasium, media center, art room and a music room.

Because of new guidelines PS&S had to follow under the mandates of design-build, Acciani said the firm faced unique and challenging hurdles. “We had a huge learning curve on Redshaw,” she said. “And there was a learning curve on their (the state’s) part, too. It was more a question of refining the relationship and the work schedule than anything else.”

“We look at it as a strong partnership with Hall Construction and the NJSDA,” she said.

View Printer friendly version

Visit www.psands.com
Follow us on LinkedIn