DLR Group: North Little Rock High School

New construction of an educational facility.

By DLR Group August 14, 2014

Engineering firm: DLR Group
2014 MEP Giants rank: 34
Project: North Little Rock High School
Address: North Little Rock, Ark., U.S.
Building type: Educational facility
Project type: New construction
Engineering services: Automation/controls, electrical/power, fire/life safety, HVAC/mechanical, lighting, energy/sustainability, plumbing/piping, and other
Project timeline: 5/1/2013 to 8/15/2016
MEP/FP budget: $20,445,000

Challenges and Solutions

DLR Group’s design for the new North Little Rock High School centers on the goal of combining grades 9-12 on one campus. The new high school fosters a student centered, personalized educational experience with strong connections to technology, career pathways, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning. Educational environments were designed to support strong student-to-teacher and teacher-to-student collaboration. Large classrooms contain the latest technology, flexible furniture for collaborative learning, and ample daylighting. Administration offices are located at the main school entry and require all visitors to check in upon arrival at a single secure and controllable entry. An entrance axis separates the public and academic areas of the school to allow secure access by the community for after-hours use. North Little Rock High School will be constructed in phases, with core academic houses being completed and occupied in succession. The design team developed an MEP system that allows each space to operate individually and ultimately be integrated into one core system at project completion. The design and construction of North Little Rock High School was funded by a $265.6 million bond to execute a comprehensive strategic plan developed by the district, DLR Group, and community members. The bond referendum called for a $7.4 million levy increase—one of the largest increases in the history of Arkansas—and was overwhelmingly approved by North Little Rock patrons in February 2012. North Little Rock High School’s 488,000 sq ft of space will serve 3,000 students in grades 9-12. The scope includes a new performing arts center with adjacent spaces for band, choir, dance, and theater. Also included are a 5,000-seat football stadium and track, new practice gymnasiums, a fitness center, locker rooms, a weight room, and a wrestling room. A large commons area serves as the cafeteria. DLR Group’s integrated design process produced a highly efficient building envelope and building orientation, combined with modern HVAC and electrical systems, which are modeled to achieve an Energy Star rating of 75 or greater. This includes the installation of variable air volume handling units with energy recovery devices and terminal units throughout classroom spaces to ensure thermal comfort of occupants. Ultra-low-flow plumbing fixtures will reduce domestic water consumption by more than 30% compared to peer facilities. The use of LED fixtures instead of fluorescent lights is intended to enhance visual comfort of students and staff while reducing maintenance and energy costs. The building also uses auto lighting control systems to turn off fixtures when a space is unoccupied. High-efficiency LED light fixtures also are used on the exterior of the building. DLR Group provided integrated planning; architecture; structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering; interior design; and landscape design services for this project.