“The use of precast insulated wall panels reduced the number of trades involved in creating the structure and building skin, and allowed off-site fabrication which resulted in a well-crafted wall.”

Jerry Waters, AIA LEED AP, Dull Olsen Weekes Architects


Best K–12 School

New Sandy High School in Sandy, Ore.

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Sandy, Ore., is a small town just east of Portland, but it’s growing fast. The population nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010, causing the local high school to become too overcrowded.
To accommodate this growth and give students a more inviting and comfortable place to learn, the city announced plans built a state-of-the-art 310,000 ft2 (28,200 m2) high school facility. The new school would be able to house a minimum of 1,600 students with support space for an additional 200. It would also include a gym with seating for 1,800 and a new performing arts center with stadium seating for 500.

Precast concrete insulated wall panels were chosen early on as a cost-effective, maintenance-free exterior wall system, says Jerry Waters, AIA LEED AP, architect for Dull Olsen Weekes Architects in Portland. “Precast concrete lends itself to custom color, surface textures and finishing, that when combined, result in a rich and varied facade treatment,” Waters says. “And the durability of concrete will provide the building with the longevity necessary when building with tax payer dollars.”

One of the bigger challenges on this project was to achieve a building envelope that met the city design standards, which required many material and surface planes, as well as the school district’s requirements for durability and economy, Waters says.

He worked with precast concrete producer Knife River to create a custom precast concrete solution. It featured a stone liner modeled after the “Sandy style” of architecture at the base, and a shiplap wood grain liner on the upper part, creating the appearance of different materials, explains Dusty Andrews, technical manager at Knife River. “The stone liner portion of the panels has a sandblast finish and the shiplap was left as cast to expose the wood grain finish,” he says.

The use of high-performance structural precast concrete also reduced the amount of structural steel framing needed and the length of time needed for on-site erection, while lowering the overall cost of the structure, Waters says. “The ability to create full wall height panels that met the aesthetic requirements of the city while simultaneously providing the thermal and moisture needs of the envelope and the load-bearing structure, proved to be very economical.”

That durability helped the project achieve LEED gold status, and the aesthetically appealing design has made it a showpiece for the community, says Andrews. “Using precast concrete in combination with continuous insulation and an aesthetically pleasing exterior makes for a very high performance wall system,” he says. “The owner will have a thermally efficient, low-maintenance and durable wall system.”


Josh Partee


Owner: Oregon Trail School District, Sandy, Ore.
Architect: Dull Olson Weekes-IBI Group Architects, Inc., Portland, Ore.
Precaster: Knife River, Harrisburg, Ore.
Precast Specialty Engineer: The Consulting Engineers Group, San Antonio, Tex.
Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers, Portland, Ore.
Contractor: Hoffman Construction, Portland, Ore.
Project Cost: $75 million
Project Size: 310,000 ft2 (28,200 m2)