US Builders Review                                                    

San Marcos High School: Combining Elements for Advanced Educational Structures

Nick Novak, senior project manager for Lusardi Construction Company (Lusardi), isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty. “We’ll roll up our sleeves and get the job done,” says Novak. His role at the California-based, 54-year-old full-service contracting company ensures Novak knows that creativity and extra effort are what it takes to get a job done right. Novak joined Lusardi eight years ago with a background in business management, which augments the executive team’s combined 130 years of experience in construction.

Lusardi’s vast expertise began when Warner Lusardi and his father, Peter Lusardi, first started working out of the garage of their Southern California home in 1958. With big dreams and a tremendous work ethic, the father-and-son team fostered the Lusardi idea into an American success story. Since then, Lusardi has become an established force in the industry due to thousands of building projects, totaling upward of 30 million square feet. The company’s corporate headquarters is located in San Marcos, Calif., though Lusardi also boasts a northern office in Dublin, Calif.

More Than a Building

The 422,342-square foot San Marcos High School in San Marcos, Calif., is one of the Lusardi team’s greatest undertakings. The reconstruction began in January 2012 and is set to be completed by January 2014, and Novak assures Lusardi will uphold this timeline. “Of our 30-plus school projects, we’ve never been late on a single one,” he notes.

According to Novak, the state-of-the-art facility is more along the lines of what one would expect at a university, rather than a high school. The $150 million project includes seven buildings. “The unique aspect of this school, other than its sheer size, is that it uses a variety of building envelopes,” explains Novak. The project combines many different elements, as Lusardi has utilized tilt-up, cast-in-place, structural steel and masonry.

The main building consists of a three- and four-story classroom arrangement, comprised of steel and cast-in-place walls. The gymnasium, theater and an auxiliary construction lab are tilt-up, and also include some of the largest tilt-up panels in San Diego County. In particular, the tilt-up method of construction has helped in the efficiency of the project while also keeping Lusardi on schedule.

The layout of the site and building magnitude, however, posed several issues that demanded Lusardi’s expertise. The project experienced rainy weather, resulting in a muddy work site, and the team encountered challenges trying to lift the gymnasium panels. In result, the gymnasium had to be lifted in two phases because there was so much concrete. Due to the tight site, it became necessary to stagger the lifting phases.

Striving for the Students

“Our attitude is, ‘Do whatever it takes,’” says Novak. It is evident that it is important to Lusardi to meet deadlines for the students, ensuring all involved can regain a normal classroom setting. Currently, the San Marcos High School students are attending class at an interim campus, comprised of 357 modular units, which is adjacent to the reconstruction project. In June 2011 Lusardi was given six months to establish the temporary campus.

Remaining on site, both students and faculty are able to witness the entire project and appreciate Lusardi’s progress. Additionally, teachers are using the construction as an educational opportunity, while Lusardi allows students to tour safe areas of the site.

“We take a lot of pride in making sure we’re not just building what the architects and engineers say, but ensuring that it is all cost effective,” explains Novak. Lusardi is cautious when dealing with valuable tax dollars, reducing waste and choosing economical solutions when possible. In addition, as a full-service general contractor, Lusardi operates on a design-assist basis, allowing the company to have input throughout the whole process. Lusardi works with architects and engineers to fine tune the design and set up a reasonable schedule.

Assembling a skilled team is a critical part of the process. Lusardi conducts comprehensive reviews of subcontractor estimates, costs and financial stability. Although some work is subcontracted, Lusardi can self-perform concrete, tilt-up, foundations, as well as slab work.

“We have a full field staff, and the ability to supplement anything,” reiterates Novak. “We’ll do the work if need be; that’s how we maintain schedule.” Lusardi Construction Company has remained dynamic in the industry by acting more as a partner than a contractor, and those at San Marcos High School will be able to relish in yet another successful project.