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Construction News, September 2007

“Back to School”

St. John’s Episcopal School has been a prominent private school in Dallas since 1953. Some of the building’s interior dated back to that time and church members decided it was time for renovations.

“The St. John’s Episcopal School project came to us through a referral from the architectural community. We then met with the school officials to walk through the project and visited with them about their construction needs.” said Marathon Construction CEO Preston Smith.

The bell rang at St. John’s Episcopal School and students at the private school whisked away. It was time to get some rest and relaxation on summer break. The summer months didn’t mean everyone would get a break. For the folks at Marathon Commercial Construction L.L.C, the empty hallways and absence of students meant it was time for them to go back to school and get some work done. Smith says for the next few months they would face many challenges and have to do their homework on this facility renovation.

“Our challenge was to take an existing facility and match new materials to existing materials. It was really difficult to find some of the carpets and ceramic tiles to match. There were many projects within this project. We renovated offices, classrooms, and restrooms at the school. We even did some electrical upgrades, and overcame the difficulty of the project by researching the availability of the materials. Probably the most challenging thing about this project was we had a limited time to do the work before the students were due back. School was set to open in mid-August and that date was not going to move, regardless of any construction obstacles we may have face. Therefore, we had to implement very precise scheduling and coordination to meet our deadline.”

Smith says the company has completed many projects at religious facilities, but a major part of this construction project included working around daily operational administration areas of the school.

“Some of the building was still in use while we were completing the interior finish on several other ares of the school. we had to employ several methods to contain the construction area. We used dust partitions and electrical filters to minimize the dust. So we did a lot to close off the construction areas from the rest of the school.”

When asked if working on a religious facility was different from other construction projects, Smith says religious facility construction taught his company that all construction projects are not created the same and communication is the key to being successful.

“Religious facility construction requires a different approach than other commercial work. Typically, you do not have a single point of contact with a client. Instead you have a committee of church members and/or elders that make the decision as a body. In our dealings with religious facility clients, they require more attention and need the facts upfront. We welcome the needed attention and expectations to help them meet their needs.”