- By Peter Wilk
- March 1st, 2005
Teaneck High School opened in 1928. Because of overcrowding in the original building, a new wing was added to the school in 1936. In the early 2000s, Teaneck Board of Education (TBE) predicted a record enrollment that reached 1,400 students in the 2003-2004 school year. The board decided to perform an extensive renovation of the high school, including redevelopment of the gymnasium and upgrade of the facility’s infrastructure. The redevelopment of the school’s gymnasium is said to represent one of the most creative solutions addressing a shortage of classroom space in American public schools in recent years. Teaneck High School’s need for additional space was solved not through construction of a new facility or wing, but by creative re-use of an existing space. Construction activities, performed by ICS Builders, Inc., included redeveloping one of the school’s two gymnasiums into two auxiliary gyms/event rooms and six new classrooms; renovation of 48 existing classrooms; construction of six new classrooms; and adding an art studio, multicultural center, teachers planning center, guidance suite and numerous infrastructure upgrades.
Logistics and Planning
According to Ted O’Rourke, ICS senior vice president and project executive,The ICS team and construction manager made a tremendous effort to limit the students’ exposure to construction work. The team’s goal was to minimize interruptions of the school’s educational activities during the renovation.
A significant portion of the work was performed between 3:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., as well as during school holidays and weekends. The work was also performed during the summer session of 2003, continues O’Rourke.The team prepared the school for occupancy every evening after work was completed for the day. In addition, workers took special precautions to avoid dust contamination, including limiting movements of the construction crews outside of the work areas and diligent sealing off of spaces under construction with plastic sheeting.
The project’s planning was made even more complex by the need to coordinate construction activities with two other independent contractors performing work on smaller projects at the school.
The school originally had two gyms. While analyzing various options that would deliver additional space, the school’s management, construction executives, the architect and the construction team reached the conclusion that the most economic way of providing additional classrooms would be to redevelop one of the gymnasiums.
The Elizabeth Street gymnasium was a column-free, 6,000-sq.-ft., double-height facility located on the school’s first floor. The redevelopment process created 6,000 sq. ft. of additional classroom space by dividing the gym’s space vertically. The team built a new floor horizontally across the height of the school’s gym. This second floor now houses six new classrooms above the gym. This engineering solution preserved the space on the school’s first floor, divided in half by a new permanent wall, that serves as two smaller gymnasiums or event rooms. Those spaces are 3,000 sq. ft. each.
The team built six new classrooms above the gym that vary in size from 900 sq. ft. to 1,100 sq. ft. A different contractor erected the structural steel support and poured the new floor prior to ICS joining the project team. Renovation of the Elizabeth Street gym, which followed its structural redevelopment, included installation of a new floating wood flooring system in the new east gym.
Renovation of Classrooms
The renovation of 48 classrooms required careful planning. The renovation work was performed in phases encompassing three to four classrooms at a time. The planning for each phase was closely coordinated with the school’s management and took into consideration the need to provide unobstructed and safe access to facilities and spaces immediately adjacent to construction areas. Fifty percent of the classrooms were renovated before the end of the 2002-2003 school year. The remaining classrooms were renovated during the summer of 2003. The project was completed in September 2003.
Classroom renovations involved skim coating of walls to rejuvenate the surfaces and a new paint, new marker boards and techboards, new acoustical ceilings, replaced lighting fixtures and a new public address system. The team also installed new windows in several classrooms.
Other Facilities and Systems
The new, 2,500-sq.-ft. art studio, on the school’s third floor, consists of three areas — two art rooms and a workroom. The art studio is fitted out with custom-stained, honey-oak wooden furniture and casework. Worktables have chemical-resistant epoxy tops.
The third floor also houses the new 10,000-sq.-ft. multicultural center. The center includes a centrally located, open-space media center and reading room; four areas dedicated to specific research and study fields; a peer group room; and storage and electric rooms.
On the second floor, a 3,500-sq.-ft. guidance suite includes a media office area. Adjacent to the guidance suite is a library workroom. A 5,200-sq.-ft. teachers planning room is located on the school’s first floor. It contains the teachers’ work area, a conference room and a lounge. The work area features teachers’ workstations with telephones and laptop connections. Adjacent to the teachers’ planning center is a mailroom and a copy room.