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Making The Grade

Hinsdale Middle School Joe & Job Site Sign

Joe Murray (featured) enjoyed getting students at Hinsdale’s middle school involved with the “Behind the Fence Club,” which gave kids a better understanding of what it takes to build a school.

As a superintendent with Bulley & Andrews (B&A) for the past five years, Joe Murray has learned many tricks of the trade. Most recently, he put his knowledge to the test working alongside Bruce Piecuch, Senior Superintendent, on the new, 133,900 square foot Hinsdale Middle School. One of the largest K-12 educational projects B&A has been tasked with building, the project required close coordination of trades, expert logistical management and frequent Saturday visits to the site.

“It’s been exciting and a point of pride for me to be on this project,” said Joe. “I’ve been a part of it since day one.”

One of the biggest challenges posed by the project was the earth retention system which required a deep basement. The team worked tirelessly over the course of several months and in the dead of winter to get the building out of the ground. The deep foundations enable the school to support the weight of a potential parking deck.

Science Lab at Hinsdale Middle School – © 2018 James Steinkamp Photography

Interior issues were abundant as well, including a last minute scope change from acid etched concrete to polished concrete in the science labs. After presenting the school several different mockups of the etching technique, the owner elected to polish the floors instead. This solution nearly tripled the installation time. Even with this substantial switch and other owner-initiated changes in the cafetorium and gym, the project proceeded on schedule and reached substantial completion in November 2018. Furniture move-in started quickly after and the teachers were given access to their classrooms well before welcoming students into the school for the new year.

The new Hinsdale Middle School reached substantial completion this past November – © 2018 James Steinkamp Photography

Logistics posed an especially keen challenge since construction of the new school occurred mere feet from the existing school. B&A ensured a safe environment for students throughout construction with expert planning and site coordination, including having workers take a bus to the site from another location to minimize construction traffic surrounding the school.

However, one distinct advantage of the close proximity of the project to the existing school was the opportunity for students to engage more with the construction process. From understanding what’s involved when answering RFIs in the field to reviewing drawings in the trailer, Joe helped lead the school’s Behind the Fence Club. The club provided students with a peek behind the scenes of the project, as well as the process, while piquing their interest in the construction industry.

“It was fun and rewarding for me to see how excited the kids are about the project.” said Joe. “Who knows, maybe one day one of them will be working at Bulley & Andrews, too.” How’s that for forward-thinking recruiting efforts?

Joe won’t have to travel far for his next assignment. Now that students are settled into their new building, B&A has begun work to demolish the former middle school.

Demolition of the old Hinsdale Middle School just feet from the new school.

“The students think a giant wrecking ball is coming in,” said Joe. “Unfortunately, it won’t be as exciting as that.” But with a host of new amenities and a layout that supports 21st century learning, hopefully being in their new, state-of-the-art school is.