The Rockford School Board tonight approved hiring an architecture firm to design two new elementary schools as part of the 10-year Facilities Master Plan.
The School Board approved plans in December to build two schools. Field work will begin as early as fall 2016. Both schools are slated for completion before the start of the 2018-19 school year. The schools have identical designs of 84,000 square feet each, although the buildings may differ in brick, paint or flooring, for example. Each will have four strands (four first grade classrooms, four second grade classrooms, four third grade classrooms, etc.).
Thirteen companies submitted information in response to a Request for Qualifications. (Several applicants partnered with other companies for the project.) The RFQ process is not about the lowest-responsible bidder. Instead, the process finds the most qualified company to do the work. The RPS 205 evaluation committee narrowed that list to the top five firms: CannonDesign, Fanning-Howey, Hagney Architects/Wight, Larson & Darby Group and Richard L. Johnson Associates/BLDD.
Finalists were interviewed and ranked based on their presentation, experience and approach to each project. Chicago-based CannonDesign was ranked highest based on several strengths: experience with K-12 projects, capacity to execute the project designs on the Administration’s schedule and design capabilities. The company also has positive experience working with RPS 205 on six elementary additions.
The School Board agreed tonight to hire CannonDesign with a fee of 4.9 percent of the total project value, or $1.7 million of the estimated construction project total of $35.8 million. The project design fee is under the allocated budget of $2.1 million.
The scope of architectural and engineering services includes the following:
- New Elementary School for Zone 1: replaces Nelson and Kishwaukee Elementary Schools
- New Elementary School for Zone 2: replaces Cherry Valley, Thompson and White Swan Elementary Schools
Of the $11.5 million in architectural work awarded so far in the Facilities Master Plan, 79 percent – or $9.1 million – has been awarded to Rockford firms. Less than $2.4 million, or 21 percent, has been awarded to Chicago-based companies. The State Professional Services Selection Act bars organizations from limiting the selection to local firms. The emphasis is on qualifications, not location. Local firms were given an advantage only in securing an interview. Points were awarded to firms based on their ability to do the job, not location.