Soquel Building 200 Science Lab

Collaboration and Tenacity Drives the Success of the Soquel High School Modernization Program

When Swinerton was first engaged by the Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS) district to embark on the multi-phased and multi-building Soquel High School Modernization Program, the desired projects exceeded the district’s budget. Through a combination of extensive budgeting and value management, and diligently working with their trade partners, the design team, and consultants, Swinerton’s project team, led by Project Manager Steve Phares, developed solutions to accomplish many of the district’s requirements with adjustments.

Initially, the goal of the Soquel High School Modernization Program was to modernize campus Buildings 100, 200, and 300 with new HVAC, Mechanical, and Electrical systems at a preliminary budget of approximately $18 million. Swinerton led value engineering efforts and worked with trade partners to review and identify parts of the systems that could be substituted, removed, and reused. They proposed a change to service and an update of the existing mechanical systems as well as re-use of electrical system elements and branch circuits to bring the budget down to just over half of the original budget at $9.8 million.

Additionally, the Modernization Program also required temporary student classrooms to house school operations displaced by construction activities. Swinerton identified an alternate option to shuffle existing classrooms to accommodate these operations and eliminated the need for temporary facilities saving the program $2.5 million in costs.

Santa Cruz City Schools was extremely satisfied with Swinerton’s efforts with specific praise for Project Manager Steve Phares. “His ability to look at circumstances with an open mind and a solution-focused approach was the key ingredient in the success of the projects that Swinerton partnered on with the District,” shared Trevor Miller, SCCS’s Director of Facility Services.

“Swinerton gave the district real service, with an honest transparent true partnership. What Swinerton did for the district was to add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that was sincerity and integrity, before, during, and after the contracts.”

The modernization resulted in buildings with more efficient and properly working infrastructure systems, improved and increased functionality for existing facilities, and upgraded site infrastructure to code. The district was extremely pleased with Swinerton’s advocacy and solutions to obtain the best product for their budget. Swinerton brought strong and knowledgeable leadership, built a relationship of trust and cooperation with all team members, and cultivated a transparent and collaborative process.

Photo courtesy of MADI 19six Architects