With a total construction budget of $54 million, the 335,000 square foot complex is situated on 65-acres, and has a capacity of 2,000 students. The facility houses a three-story classroom wing, two gymnasiums and physical education areas, an auditorium, a cafeteria, a media center with a coffee shop, and a stand-alone Career Technical Education building. On-site is a sports complex with tennis courts, a 4,500-person football stadium, press box, and a concession stand.
New Atlantic Contracting was awarded the project after a prequalification process and a winning bid. However, because that low bid was still nearly $5 million over budget, extensive value engineering became New Atlantic’s first charge. And, the project’s timeline was very short – but they were up for the challenge.
To begin with, the initial budget restraints would prevent the construction of the new athletic fields, meaning that off-campus fields would have to be used until funds could be raised for the new fields. Given the safety issues of students having to travel off campus, the Owner tasked the designers and New Atlantic with finding a solution that would allow for all the fields to be constructed without a significant budget increase. Finding a design scenario to accommodate wasn’t easy, but they knew they could save money and provide the best use of space for the Owner by converting on-site sediment basins and rock disposal sites into the new athletic fields.
Because initial rock disposal efforts did not anticipate the possibility of supporting a baseball field, structural soil bridging efforts were required to ensure the stability of the new baseball field. This challenge was rather simple compared to the softball field site which sat directly on top of a 1.3-acre sediment basin protecting adjacent wetlands. Accelerated site stabilization and close coordination with NC DENR representatives were required to enable early removal of the temporary sediment basin and allow construction of the softball field to begin. The new field designs also involved extensive site retaining walls (to protect wetlands), the re-working of stormwater and irrigation systems, as well as paving and sidewalk layout revisions.
The football field was another problem altogether. An access road to the Davie County Youth Athletic Park passed right through the middle of the new football field for the first ten months of the project.
Even though a new access road was put in place, the existing access road couldn’t be touched because it was originally constructed, in part, with State and Federal Recreation Department monies and by law, could not be altered without prior written approval from the National Park Service.
The authorization process to demolish the existing access road was muddied with legalities involving the state of North Carolina and other federal agencies. It took involvement from US Congresswoman Virginia Foxx to get final approval to demolish the existing road, which left just three months to grade the stadium bowl, build the track and associated drainage systems, amend the soils, install irrigation systems, and plant grass seed.
And the athletic fields were just the beginning of the challenges. The overall construction site became known as a “rock garden on steroids.” Every time New Atlantic attempted to excavate a foundation or install a deep utility, they came across a boulder -- and most times, these boulders turned out to be larger than the excavation equipment itself. By the end of the project, more than 2,300 cubic yards of rock was dug up without schedule impact.
As if all these challenges weren’t enough, New Atlantic was asked if they could finish the 169,000 square foot Classroom Tower Building months ahead of schedule so that the faculty could get a head start on their classroom and media center prep work prior to students’ arrival. Working closely with designers, local inspectors, and fire marshals, the project was expedited much to the satisfaction of Davie County and its faculty. And in mid August, 2017, The New Davie County High School opened its doors to students.