Florida school districts are continually fighting rebuilding costs due to damaging storms—a common problem in the hurricane-ridden area. A growing student population on campuses and the need for strong, safe buildings demanded a better solution.
When Indian River County School District, Indian River County, Fla., was hit by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2005, it lost the Gifford Alternative School. “We had a population of 110 students who had no place to go,” says Susan Olson, chief of facilities and construction for the district. “We had to solve the problem fast, but we wanted to escape the cycle of replacing portables every time a big storm came through. And we didn't have the time or budget to reconstruct the school from the ground up.”
The district needed a building system that not only would rebuild their school but last for years to come. A modular, portable concrete building system—Concreteables—offered by Royal Concrete, West Palm Beach, Fla., fit what the district was looking for. “We were able to design and build a campus that is beautiful, permanent, and affordable,” says Olson. “We saved more than 40% over the cost of a traditionally constructed building.”
The prepoured concrete buildings were chosen based on four important criteria: the speed in which the structures can be built, the flexibility it offers to the changing needs of the district, cost effectiveness, and strength.
Prefabricated in one central location, the structures are then shipped to the jobsite already wired for electricity and technology, and featuring painted walls and hung doors. After the building system is erected, windows and flooring are installed, seams waterproofed, and utilities such as electricity and plumbing tied in, according to John Albert, Royal Concrete sales and marketing manager. And unlike other forms of construction, the Royal Concrete Building System can be put to use within six months.
Besides rebuilding schools after tropical storm destruction, the modular portable system offers the flexibility to alleviate the growing demand for space in an aesthetically pleasing manner. As school districts grow at a record-breaking pace, additional classrooms and facilities can be added to existing buildings and the structures can be moved without experiencing structural damage. Indian River County was able to solve its problem with portable classrooms—which require replacement every few years.
Overall, choosing a prefabricated building system saved time and put students and parents at ease as the tropical storm season approached; Royal Concrete reports that Concreteables can withstand 150-mph winds caused by tropical storms. In addition, the school district reduced rebuilding costs, where in Florida, traditional high schools can cost up to $165/square foot, whereas the Concreteable system costs $72/square foot.