FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Board OKs architect contract negotiations
for Whale Branch gym, performing arts center
BEAUFORT – The Beaufort County Board of Education voted tonight to proceed with contract negotiations with an architectural firm to design a competition gymnasium and performing arts center for Whale Branch Early College High School.
McMillan, Pazdan Smith Architecture – with offices in Greenville, Spartanburg, Charleston, Asheville, Charlotte and Atlanta – emerged as the top choice at the end of a multilayered selection process. The firm has designed school facilities for 29 South Carolina districts, and school design comprises 65 percent of its work.
McMillan Pazdan Smith has been named among the nation’s top firms by Architect Magazine and has earned recognitions from the Council of Education Facility Planners in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011-2015.
Eight architectural firms submitted proposals for the Whale Branch projects in the first stage of the process. Five finalists were interviewed on April 6, and their proposals were independently evaluated and scored by a panel of four reviewers: two staffers from the district’s facilities office, a high school principal and a community member with expertise in facilities design and construction.
Following the interviews, the review panel independently scored the firms as part of a process that led to the selection of McMillan Pazdan Smith.
The competing firms were rated using a 100-point scoring scale: past performance (10 points); ability of professional personnel (20 points); demonstrated ability to meet time and budget requirements (10 points); location and knowledge of the locality of the project (10 points); recent, current and projected workload of the firm (20 points); creativity and insight related to the project (10 points); related experience on similar projects (10 points); and volume of work awarded by the district to the firm during the previous five years with the objective of effectuating an equitable distribution of contracts among qualified firms including minority-owned businesses and firms that have not previously performed work for the district (10 points).
The Beaufort County Board of Education voted Feb. 7 to build the competition gymnasium at Whale Branch Early College High and voted March 21 to build the school a performing arts center. Whale Branch is currently the only district high school that does not have a performing arts-style auditorium for student performances and classes, and is also the only district high school that doesn’t have a larger competition gym. Parents and community supporters had urged the district to build both a performing arts center and a competition gymnasium since the high school opened in 2010.
Both projects will be funded under a state-authorized provision that allows local school boards to borrow up to 8 percent of their districts’ assessed property value for facilities construction and improvement.