8/2019 Back to School Buzz: Northwood School District Looking Forward to New Classrooms, 400-Seat Auditorium

In 2007, the town of Northwood, N.D., was struck by a category EF4 tornado nearly a mile wide and wielding winds in excess of 150 mph. The community was devastated, with all 360 homes and every business sustaining some level of harm. Property damage exceeded $52 million. Northwood Public School was one of the most impacted structures, as the gymnasium was destroyed and total damage to the school was estimated at more than $1 million.

Tragedy brought the community together, and the school was rebuilt in time for start of classes in Fall, 2008. The master site plan done at that time called for the construction of an auditorium, however, with citizens burdened with the rebuilding costs associated with the tornado, the auditorium was slated for a later phase. Since then, Northwood has continued to grow and school enrollment has exceeded projections, making additional classroom space a necessity. In 2018, citizens and school administrators took steps to turn those plans into reality.

Today, Consolidated Construction Co., Inc., a design-build contractor hailing from Bismarck, is working diligently on the expanded Northwood Public School campus. Highlights include elementary classroom additions, Special Needs and Title 1 classrooms, a 380-seat auditorium designed for student and community use, and select improvements to the music classroom. An energy-efficient ground source heating system serves the existing facility, and has been extended into the new spaces. Site improvements include additional parking, and improved facility access for bus pick-off/drop-off, emergency access, and event parking. All told, the project entails 17,420 SF of new construction and 1,802 SF of renovated spaces.

Working around an occupied school poses special safety and security challenges, so Consolidated prepared a site utilization plan prior to the start of construction to ensure a safe environment for students, staff, and visitors.

“The project is going great, very smooth” said Chad Ruzicka, the owner’s representative for Northwood Public Schools, who holds a degree in Construction Management from North Dakota State University. “I’m impressed how things have been coordinated, kept on schedule, and how the safety and quality control measures put in place have benefitted this project.”

Ruzicka added, “The community has really rallied behind this effort. We recently held an open house and gave everyone a chance to see what we were building, and people were so excited, the school district received a number of generous donations.”

Construction is proceeding on schedule towards a December, 2019 completion of the classroom additions and a Spring, 2020 completion for the auditorium. ICON Architectural Group is the architect of record.