When Cayman International School and its governing body, International School Services, partnered with Dart on a US$60 million project to expand the school’s campus, no one could foresee the challenges this year would bring.
Construction on phase two of the Cayman International School expansion, an almost 100,000-square-foot high school building, began in November 2018 with an initial completion target date of August 2020. This date became unattainable when COVID-19 arrived on Grand Cayman’s shores earlier this year. However, despite the setbacks of an island-wide lockdown, closed borders, social distancing restrictions and material concerns from international suppliers, the project team pulled out all the stops to ensure it could still deliver a state-of-the-art high school building for the current school year.
After undergoing a series of mandatory inspections to ensure everything met the Cayman Islands Buildings Code, the site achieved its certificate of occupancy mid-November.
Kieran Donovan, project manager for the expansion that included the early childhood campus completed in mid-2019, is astonished by what the team was able to achieve.
“This year we’ve obviously had major disruptions, but we’ve still managed to hit our commercial and schedule target,” said Donovan. “It is quite miraculous. If you look around Cayman, many construction projects had to be put on hold, and so for us, it’s really something special to have reached this point.”
Experienced crews and the sophisticated level of planning that occurred at the project’s conception are what Donovan attributes to the successful delivery.
“Though we were delivering a school, we have to first look at it as a construction project where we manage people and a process to deliver a product," he said. "We have experienced construction teams and so approaching the project this way was our initial success factor. With the support from our subcontractors, who did an amazing job, we got the project over the line."
Both the early childhood campus and the high school building were designed and built to transform and improve the students’ experiences and facilitate Cayman International School's contemporary approaches to teaching and learning.
The high school features new spaces that will promote collaboration including a STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math — lab, project workspaces and performing arts and music practice rooms.
Shane Dwyer, a senior construction engineer who oversaw the project's mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors, said there were some deliverables for the high school building that took special consideration when being constructed.
“A variety of spaces are dedicated to extracurricular activities and laboratories, so there were additional services required for those, be it acoustics for the performance rooms, gas for experiments or IT infrastructure for the school's latest technology," he said. "Each of these spaces had their own set of technical requirements that had to be achieved in order for successful completion of the project."
Dwyer said a lot of thought went into the level of performance the school could facilitate, from the gymnasium’s infrastructure to the high-tech performance stage and the audiovisual booth.
"With these, it can double up as a state-of-the-art gym and a space to put on a high-class performance.”
As the staff of Cayman International School looks forward to putting the new high school's exciting features to good use, it has begun the process of fitting out classrooms and offices, making final arrangements to open for the start of the next school term in January.
This article appears in print in the December 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.
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