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August 7, 2019

Tacoma Public Schools Takes a Chance on Progressive Design-Build

By Heather Hocklander

Progressive Design Build Could be the Solution to the Challenges of Design and Construction for Public School Districts

School districts face many challenges today. Escalating material prices, outdated budgets, tariffs, and a competitive bid climate challenge the traditional delivery of new and renovated educational facilities. When Boze Elementary School needed replacing, Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) chose an innovative, non-traditional method to meet these challenges head-on: Progressive Design Build (PDB). The replacement of Boze marks the first time in Washington a district has used Progressive Design Build to deliver a K-12 school.

TPS knew they would need a cohesive team to mitigate risks and guide the replacement of Boze to a successful conclusion with this new delivery method. The team of Korsmo Construction and BCRA were selected for their strength in Design-Build experience. Together with TPS, the PDB team focused on meeting program needs and design goals — all while maximizing the budget and meeting a rigorous inclusion target.

Meeting the Needs of the District with PDB

With PDB, collaborative decision-making happens early and often. With designers and contractors in alignment prior to solicitation, TPS joined a cooperative team where everyone was an engaged participant in a process dedicated to a value-rich outcome. Using Design-Build best practices, Korsmo-BCRA and TPS were able to expedite decision making and work through Boze’s challenges together. Early partnering allowed the PDB team to create project efficiencies that saved time and maximized every program dollar for the district. Early agreements on which spaces and features were priorities for the owner helped control costs throughout design and construction without sacrificing program needs – a key to defining project success.

Tacoma Public Schools was also committed to investing in the local community by providing opportunities to disadvantaged and local businesses. The district worked closely with Korsmo to promote and secure inclusion goals of 30% local, 10% minority-owned, 6% women-owned, and 5% small business. Currently, the project has doubled its local inclusion goal and its goal for minority-owned business involvement. As the project continues, these numbers will continue to rise and proves to districts around the state that this type of outreach is attainable.

Serving the Students and Community with PDB

Boze Elementary School functions both as a school and community hub that provides a meeting place and social and wellness services to many residents of Tacoma’s Eastside. Understanding these unique needs was critical to make design and construction decisions based on value to the overall program rather than their cost.

The collaborative nature of PDB allowed the team to work with community partners, such as the WIC program and the Technology Access Foundation, to prioritize programming spaces such as a family liaison office and a community meeting room with a separate entrance.

The City of Tacoma is also noticing the success of Boze. City Councilwoman Catherine Ushka commented, “A new school only happens in a community once every couple decades, if you’re lucky, and we’ve been given the opportunity to reconstruct Boze Elementary and invest in the Eastside of Tacoma. The Korsmo-BCRA team made sure the reconstruction of Boze Elementary was done right. They bent over backwards to work with the community to ensure this wasn’t just a beautiful school, but also a beautiful space for the community. The team went to great lengths to listen to and partner with the community and found ways to solve challenges like moving the community garden that is important to the neighborhood.”

Achieving Success with PDB

Thanks to the inherent collaboration found with PDB, the new Boze Elementary School broke ground with an in-budget Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). The project included its full program scope, record-setting diversity participation, and community support.

The key to our success? A team committed to continuous collaboration, meaningful engagement with the project’s stakeholders, and creative PDB solutions. This approach has ensured the new Boze Elementary is not just a school, but a space to serve its community for decades.