Manor College Outdoor Classroom Project
Location: Jenkintown, PA
Project type: Exterior commercial renovation
Services: Preconstruction estimating, construction project management, 3-D renderings, demolition, construction, landscape, hardscape, and finishing
Manor College approached us with the idea to transform a previously underused exterior space into a fully functional and energy-efficient outdoor classroom for students and faculty to learn, collaborate, study, and work. While their goal was to provide a safe space to gather amid Covid-19 physical distancing guidelines, Manor also wanted a space that would be useful and inviting beyond the current circumstances.
After working with Manor on several interior projects, including a dental health center, dormitory, bathroom, dining hall, and vet tech facilities, we were pleased to partner with them on this outdoor project.
The future outdoor classroom sat on approximately 5,000 square feet, situated conveniently adjacent to an existing college structure and parking lot. The grass-covered site featured large trees and an underused gazebo with benches.
Using the inspiration photos Manor provided, we worked quickly on drawings and 3-D renderings to illustrate the shared vision for the new space. Then, after incorporating Manor’s changes and finalizing the concepts and material selection, we were ready to begin construction. The project started in May 2021 with a strict completion date in August of the same year – just in time for students to return for the fall semester. Our construction services for Manor College’s outdoor classroom project included preconstruction estimating, project management, demolition, construction, 3-D renderings, landscape, hardscape, and finishing.
As we were nearing the end of this project, Tropical Storm Fred hit the area in mid-August 2021 with sustained winds of up to 65 mph. The water washed over some of the early plantings and covered the flat areas in mud and debris, delaying our progress to allow for a thorough cleanup process. Thankfully, our hard-working team arrived quickly on the scene to clean up and restore the area just in time for Manor’s students to return to class.
As the construction managers on this project, we coordinated and oversaw every detail, from drawings and concepts to landscaping and electrical. Our solutions included:
· Water runoff design – We built the outdoor classroom into a slope for water runoff, helping to avoid future flooding. We also formed a trench drain at the end of the walkway that meets the parking lot to give the water somewhere to go.
· Tiered seating – We incorporated tiered seating rather than benches to maximize the number of students and faculty in the space while still allowing them to collaborate from a safe distance.
· Green-friendly lighting – Our electricians installed LED step, pathway, and accent lighting on a dusk to dawn photocell timer, creating an inviting space for day or night use while reducing Manor’s electricity output and costs.
· Ample power sources – Installing power in multiple places in the outdoor classroom allows students and faculty to plug in laptops, microphones, phones, and other chargeable devices to maximize the functionality of the space.
· Durable and aesthetically pleasing hardscape materials – The beautiful grey-toned color palate features Steel Mountain smooth pavers on the walkways and step walls. In addition, Beacon Hill Smooth pavers adorn the steps, and Eco-Prioria permeable pavers form the darker decorative inner of the circle. We also chose coordinating accent hardscaping materials like boulders to complete the look.
· Low-maintenance landscaping – The landscaping plan included 16 species of low-maintenance trees, shrubs, and ground cover, including blooming rose bushes and hydrangeas, to allow Manor’s new space to thrive for years to come.
Despite Mother Nature throwing a wrench into our timeline, we were able to complete the new outdoor classroom before students returned to campus. By breathing new life into this previously underused exterior space, we helped create a spacious and pleasant alternative learning and working environment
for Manor College’s students and faculty. As an all-in-one solution, we managed the project from start to finish, giving Manor College access to all the exterior remodeling services they needed under one roof.