June 5, 2019

District on the Rise: Butler Tech Builds Up to Manage Growth

With its bold architecture and striking red exterior, Butler Tech’s Bioscience Center in West Chester, Ohio, is one of the most recognizable buildings on the I-75 corridor between Dayton and Cincinnati.

It is also at capacity.

As the biomedical field heats up, the school has reached the limits of what it can do with its available space. This month, Miller-Valentine Construction will begin adding a 4,000 square foot floor above the building’s administrative wing. The expansion will house a phlebotomy lab and a classroom, as well as study space. Miller-Valentine is partnering with MSP Design on this dynamic project.

Designed for Growth
For more than 40 years, Butler Tech has provided career education for high school and adult students in Butler County. When its 32,000 square foot Bioscience Center was completed in the summer of 2015, the district knew that it was just the first phase of a much larger facility. There was no doubt that additional square footage would be needed; the only question was when. Because student populations and school funding can fluctuate, flexibility would be key to manage future growth.

In response, MSP designed upward expansion into the bones of the building. The foundations and steel were engineered to handle an additional 18,000 square feet of vertical growth. Plumbing, HVAC ducts, and electrical conduits were strategically placed to allow for extension between floors. And the exterior materials were carefully selected to allow for easy extension without sacrifice to the building’s powerful aesthetic.

Even the roof was designed to make the addition of space as simple as possible. A typical roof consists of a metal or wood deck that is covered by a membrane. Beneath the Bioscience Center’s roof membrane, however, are steel beams, a metal deck, and a concrete slab. With some prep work, that concrete slab will become a floor, helping to shave time and costs from the expansion.

Success Through Collaboration
Expanding up, rather than out, is allowing Butler Tech to accommodate growth without the resource-intensive work of finding and developing land or obtaining easements. Likewise, working with Miller-Valentine and MSP Design is providing the district with an efficient and transparent process that is free from surprises.

From the start, the project has showcased the advantages and benefits that are inherent in close collaboration between the design, construction, and owner teams. Together, MSP Design and Miller-Valentine Construction representatives laid out a highly detailed schedule and project management plan with clearly defined deliverables for all stakeholders. Biweekly meetings to review the schedule, budget, wish lists, alternates, and logistics have ensured that everyone has stayed on the same page throughout the design process.

Teamwork, communication, and transparency will also be critical as construction gets underway. While Butler Tech is saving money and time by expanding vertically, the construction team will be charged with adding the new space while school is in session. To minimize interruptions, the team will apply Miller-Valentine’s systematic approach to working within an occupied building. The construction team will work closely with Butler Tech to create a safe work area and provide protection for pedestrian travel.

The project is expected to wrap up by the end of the year. But given Butler Tech’s explosive growth—and the fact that the building can still accommodate further expansion—it’s just a matter of time before the next phase gets underway.

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