News

Inside look: Jefferson High School takes shape thanks to high-tech approach

As students head back to class, the largest project in the history of the Sioux Falls School District is on track to welcome them next year.

Jefferson High School, the district’s fourth high school, now shows what a 330,000-square-foot building looks like.

“We have all phases of the project going right now and are tracking well,” said Eric Bender, superintendent for construction manager at risk Journey Group.

Interior work has started, with finishes being done on the side known as the learning suite.

Ceilings are being framed in the performing arts area and gymnasium.

Paint work is wrapping up in the gym, and track surfaces are being readied.

“The goal this fall is to get things wrapped up as best we can,” Bender said. “If weather allows, we’ll get as much grass seeded as we can, and the goal is to get the first lift of asphalt in the spring.”

Keeping the project on track and avoiding potential complications is a team effort at Journey, bolstered by state-of-the-art virtual modeling.

“We did a fully coordinated model – it’s an integral part to this project,” said Jamie Mutschelknaus, Journey’s virtual design and construction manager.

“We have spent almost a year modeling, coordinating and tweaking to make sure we could virtually build it. It’s a virtual dress rehearsal of the construction process.”

The building is “100 percent modeled and coordinated, which saves a lot of time and money,” Mutschelknaus added.

“We have gone beyond just modeling to the virtual design and construction process, which is becoming the industry standard.”

Drones fly over the site biweekly, and their images are overlaid with the building model “to check progress and make sure the site is staying clean and organized, and people know where they need to be and store materials,” he added.

“We’re using 360-degree camera walk-throughs, where the camera is mounted to a hard hat, so as you walk the facility, it captures 360-degree photos, and those get uploaded so anyone involved with the project can log in and check the progress at any time.”

Journey’s team also can use a smartphone or tablet on site to navigate the models, Mutschelknaus added.

“It’s like they’re playing a video game. They can go through and hide walls and see what’s going in place, and that’s above and beyond electronic drawings,” he said. “They can walk through the whole facility on their phone, hold a finger down, and it puts them right in whatever room they want.”

The technology “helps answer questions and helps you see things differently to make decisions in the field, which definitely helps the schedule,” Bender said.

“And the drones are invaluable for site management; being able to see the progress from above in real time every two weeks has helped in numerous ways.”

For clients, it’s also a valuable perspective.

“It’s amazing some of the aerial footage they have overlaid on drawings, so you can see how accurate it is,” said Jeff Kreiter, the school district’s director of operational services. “And with the modeling, they’re able to identify issues before they happen and solve them. So the technology allows you to take care of those things before you end up having to go backwards.”

Despite the pandemic, Journey’s safety measures have kept the project moving forward with little interruption, Senior Project Manager Joe Niewohner said.

“This was because of proactive planning and additional safety measures that were developed and implemented by Journey leadership early on, and are still being utilized to date,” he said.

Journey’s goal is to enclose the building this fall, focus on interior work over the winter and turn the building over to the school district in the spring.

“We’ve already had some discussions on sequencing and what happens as they start finishing wings,” Kreiter said. “We’ll be fine-tuning when we can start moving things in.”

Even though completion is still nine months away, Journey already is planning in detail how the project will be finished and transitioned smoothly, Niewohner added.

“We have already established our punch list and turnover process and will start implementing that plan in coordination with subcontractors, the design team and the owner in the very near future,” he said.

Kreiter said the overall project has been a “very good” experience.

“They’re very professional, and I couldn’t be more pleased,” he said.

“We’ve had a great summer, and the site is really shaping up. Everything is full tilt to a spring completion.”

- Jodi Schwan, Sioux Falls.Business - https://siouxfalls.business/inside-look-jefferson-high-school-takes-shape-thanks-to-high-tech-approach/