Phase 2 of Jordan High School Taking Shape

By Mark Rafferty & The Jordan High School Project Team

At Jordan High School in Watts, California, Swinerton Builders Los Angeles is doing a complete renovation of the entire campus structure. This is the first design-build project we have done for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), a valued repeat client. Work is being done on an operational campus with 1,200 students. The campus was originally built in the 1920s, and was most recently renovated in the 1950s. Work started last fall, and the entire $73 million project is expected to wrap-up in the summer of 2016.

In total, six buildings will be either built ground-up or renovated. Before work started, many of the existing buildings were totally demolished. Phase 1 renovated two existing buildings, one of which was converted into a girls locker room from a former wood shop building. The other building used to be a gym and was gutted and transformed into a food service kitchen area, a student store, and three classrooms for choir and dance. Phase 1 also saw a campus-wide upgrade to the whole infrastructure, from the wet side to the power side and everything in between.

Phase 2, which started on January 15, will see the ground-up construction of two, three-story, 46,000-square-foot, Type 2 buildings with 29 classrooms each. On the former site of the softball field, a new 7,500-square-foot practice gym with basketball and volleyball courts will also be built.

Phase 3 will break ground in June 2015, at which point students will move onto the newly renovated
half of campus. The team will then complete the other half with no interruption to ongoing school activities. The existing administration building at the front of campus will be completely renovated, with everything but the shell and core replaced. The 1920s building is historically significant, as Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about civil rights in front of it in the 1960s. Lights will be added to the athletic field as well, so that the Jordan Bulldogs can play
football and soccer at night. Phases 4 and 5 are smaller in scope and involve the upgrading of low-voltage and fire
alarm systems.

One of the biggest challenges on the project to date involved the demolition of two of the buildings. The main fire alarm panel was located in the corner of one building, which had to be kept intact while the rest of the building was torn down. The team made sure the demolition crew took extreme precaution during this work, as it was critical to campus safety. The main distribution frame room for the entire campus also needed to be kept intact, though it was located in a separate building that had to be demolished. It is the brains of the school, holding all the low-voltage, data, internet, and phone lines. Like the fire alarm panel, the entire infrastructure will be built around it at a
later point.

The team is doing significant community outreach as part of LAUSD’s We-Build apprenticeship program, which encourages subcontractors to reach out and hire qualified local workers. The team held an outreach event in early February, with involvement from unions, subcontractors, and community organizers. Over 70 people came
out to the successful event, where the 
team explained the program to everyone interested. The team is also encouraging subcontractors to hold job fairs in the adjacent ZIP codes, so that as many local workers as possible
are hired.

The team is following Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) standards and regulations, and the project is aiming for LEED Gold certification. The buildings have many skylights and windows, a retention filter system is being built, and structural members for future solar panels are being installed on two buildings.

Due to the existing conditions and occupied campus, it is a challenging job from many aspects. Some of the original paper blueprints are nearly 100 years old, and the team is encountering many unforeseen conditions. They have dealt with them through direct communication among the team, subcontractors, and the district, ensuring the project is finished on time and with very few change orders. As Project Manager Steve Cho says, “We have a good team. The OAR [ownerauthorized representative] is really great, the IOR [inspector of record] is great, the complete team is a good team. We communicate and work together well.”

Many thanks to the project team for their dedication on this large-scale job, including: Project Executives Lia Tatevosian and Daryl Cruser, Project Manager Steve Cho, Superintendent Peter Ruiz, Senior Project Engineer Kyle Burnham, Project Engineer Rafi Halajian, Assistant Project Manager Eddy Einem, Assistant Superintendent Eric Mahler, Safety Manager Scott Kubiszewski, Project Assistant Karen Lee, and Senior Accountant Dansen Lee. Special thanks to Vice President and Director of Community Relations Rick Moore for leading the charge with the community efforts, and to the entire Los Angeles estimating team.