A Design Team Is Challenged to Create a Daylit Middle and High School for about 1,700 Students within a Former Lowe’s Home Improvement Building

Works Well with Others

The general contractor, D.F. Chase Inc., provided design-assist services from early in the schematic design process and delivered the project under a Guaranteed Maximum Price contract. The architectural and structural engineering teams collaborated closely with mechanical, plumbing and electrical consultants, which provided their services through the general contractor on a design-build basis.

This project delivery method allowed for real-time constructability and cost analysis, making it possible to truly design to the budget while keeping design intent at the center of the process. One such decision was specifying a special long-span composite concrete deck to minimize the number of steel beams supporting the new second floor. Another decision, implementing a VRF system to serve the first floor, minimized overhead air-conditioning duct runs and improved energy performance.

The design team added a second floor into the existing building envelope, effectively doubling the usable area within the existing footprint.

A compressed construction schedule also meant that interior finishing had to begin as soon as possible and be executed efficiently. Newly created exterior walls were clad in an insulated metal panel system that also served as the interior finish. This approach saved time and money by assigning a single trade—the roofing subcontractor—to install and finish the exterior and interior sides of the building envelope.

The overall design of the campus was an exercise in precision, ingenuity, efficiency and great care for the end-users—the teachers and students. When all was said and done, the completed campus offers a bright and airy educational environment whose design is organized around open, flexible communal spaces. The architecture is a successful articulation of the school’s ethos, reinforcing the mentoring and mindfulness work, which is at the core of the Valor educational model.

About Manuel Zeitlin Architects

Manuel Zeitlin Architects (MZA) is an employee-owned architectural and interior design firm based in Nashville, Tenn., celebrating 40 years of practice. The firm has an intentionally diverse portfolio and focuses on projects that enrich the lives of the people who live, play, work and learn in them. MZA employees believe that challenging and unconventional projects enhance the practice, inviting the team to push its design-thinking and execution.

Retrofit Team

ARCHITECT: Manuel Zeitlin Architects LLC

  • Ethan Levine, AIA, project architect
  • Ana Smetana, Assoc. AIA, architectural designer

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: DF Chase Inc.

  • VALOR HIGH SCHOOL
    • Chris Scheide, project manager
    • Bryan Betty, superintendent
  • MIDDLE SCHOOL
    • Daniel Freeman and Ben Millen, project managers
    • Mike Towns, superintendent

INTERIOR DESIGN: Brand Interior Design LLC

The completed campus offers a bright and airy educational environment whose design is organized around open, flexible communal spaces.
  • Malee Cherry, IIDA

CIVIL ENGINEER: Barge Cauthen & Associates

  • John Gore, P.E.

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Daigh Rick Landscape Architects

  • Anne Daigh, LA
  • Sari Barton, Landscape Designer

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: EMC Structural Engineers P.C.

  • Dan Borsos, P.E.

MECHANICAL AND PLUMBING ENGINEER: Quest Design Group

  • Nick Perry, P.E.
  • Tim Pombo, P.E.
  • Mancell Daniels, P.E.

ELECTRICAL ENGINEER: CO Christian & Sons Co. Inc.

  • Oakley Christian III, P.E.

ROOFING CONTRACTOR: Village Roofing Co.

Materials

INSULATED METAL PANELS: Kingspan

STOREFRONT: Evans Glass Co.

STEEL: Cooper Steel

SKYLIGHTS: AiA Industries

TPO ROOF: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.

GLAZED OVERHEAD DOORS: Haas Door

VRF SYSTEM: Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US

INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR LIGHTING: Design Light

GLASS BLOCK: GBA Architectural Products

CARPET TILE AND LUXURY VINYL TILE: Shaw Contract

PHOTOS: Nick McGinn, mcginnphotography.com, unless otherwise noted

About the Author

Ethan Levine, AIA, LEED AP & Ana Smetana, Assoc. AIA
Ethan Levine, AIA, LEED AP, is co-owner and an architect at Manuel Zeitlin Architects, and Ana Smetana, Assoc. AIA, is co-owner and a designer at the firm.

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