School district hires architecture firm for upcoming facilities project

“You are getting the A-team”

By Kendra Walker

During their April 10 meeting, the Gunnison Watershed School District board of directors approved a contract with architecture firm TreanorHL to perform design and engineering services for the district’s $95 million facilities improvement and expansion bond project passed by voters last November. 

The district’s executive committee for the bond project interviewed the final three architect candidates last week. “We had unanimous support from the executive committee to award to one firm, TreanorHL,” said Chris Guarino of Artaic Group, the district’s owner’s representative. The lump sum fee for full design and engineering services is $4,543,400. 

“Do you find these fees to be reasonable and accurate and appropriate for the project we’re embarking on?” asked board president Tyler Martineau. 

“They are absolutely fair, reasonable and in alignment with industry standards,” said Guarino. “Considering today’s market, we’re in a great place with this firm and these fees.”

Board treasurer Dave Taylor noted that he went back and looked at the original master plan estimates for the project. “They were $5.5 million,” he said. “Which is another indication that we may theoretically be already under budget.”

Two principals of the firm, Patrick Johnson and Chad Novak, worked on the original construction of Crested Butte Community School. “We’re really excited for them to return and improve upon your existing facilities,” said Guarino. 

Guarino said the next step is beginning the process of finding a general contractor, which began earlier this week with a site walkthrough with some of the candidates. He explained that the architect and contractor will have obligations to work collaboratively to fix budgets and schedules and establish price checks as the process moves forward. “As we design each project, we will price check with major milestone cost estimates. By the time we go from design development to construction documents, we’ve got a safe understanding of price. We’re always considering the big picture before we pull the trigger on one small thing.”

Johnson added, “We’re working with the contractor to help make sure we’re doing it as smart as we can.”

Taylor and Martineau both commented on how impressed the executive committee was with TreanorHL’s geothermal engineer. The team plans to explore the costs for geothermal and determine if it is feasible for the bond project. “Geothermal is big for us and big for this community,” said Martineau. “[TreanorHL] played a big role with the whole geothermal installation at the airport. It’s very meaningful for them to have experience in this valley.”

“You are getting the A-team and we’re excited to get started,” said Johnson.

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