New architects get to work on school projectsThey’ve got big jobs in front of them, but the Farmington School District’s new architects both say they are settling into their respective roles.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
They’ve got big jobs in front of them, but the Farmington School District’s new architects both say they are settling into their respective roles.
The district hired Steve Knutson of Eagan-based Wolfgram Knutson and Steve Doughty of St. Paul’s Pope Associates late last month to take over for DLR Associates on the construction of a new high school and renovations at two existing district schools.
The district fired DLR in November after DLR filed a breach of contract complaint against the district. The district should file its response to that claim later this month.
At the time the district fired his firm DLR senior principal Griff Davenport suggested the move could make it difficult for the district to have its buildings ready for the start of school in September. But both Knutson, who will oversee the remaining construction at the new high school, and Doughty, who will take charge of renovations at the current high school and Farmington Middle School East, are confident all of the district’s projects will be finished on time.
The two architects will face unique challenge. Knutson’s role will be primarily to watch over the work that remains at the new high school. He’s already helped the district add some doors to the building and he’s working on a package of signs — room numbers and others — for around the school. He’ll also consult with the district on any changes to the plans that arise as construction goes on.
“I’m not really interpreting the drawings. I’m just there to act as an advisor,” Knutson said.
Disputes over who should pay for change orders contributed to the end of the relationship between the district and DLR.
The district’s contract with Wolfgram Knutson calls for the district to pay $145 per hour for the architect’s services. Knutson estimated he spends from two to eight hours per week working on the project, though the time he puts in varies depending on the issues that arise.
There’s a little more to the work Doughty is doing. Pope Associates has taken over responsibility for turning the current high school into a middle school for sixth- through eighth-grade students and for turning Farmington Middle School East into an elementary school. The firm will also design a renovation that will move the district’s data center to the current high school building.
Doughty started the planning process essentially from scratch, but he said DLR had not done much design work on the projects so there will be little duplicated effort.
Doughty started meeting with district administrators in December to figure out what kind of spaces they need in the new buildings. In the new elementary school that will mean a lot of adjusting things to fit smaller students. The school will have to be made ready for students as young as kindergarten age.
“We’re in a period of documentation, all of the program requirements, all the spaces that functionally need to happen for both schools to be open by the school year,” Doughty said. “It was a fairly clean transition from our standpoint.”
Doughty hopes to have the district sign off on the designs by Jan. 15. Construction could start in some areas even before the summer break, with the buildings ready for occupation by Aug. 15.
“From our standpoint it’s going well,” Doughty said.
The district will pay Pope Associates $46,000 for its work on classroom areas at the current high school, $80,000 for work at FMS East and $75,000 for the data center project.
Superintendent Brad Meeks said at the time the district hired Pope Associates and Wolfgram Knutson that the change of architects would not put the projects over budget.