- The Washington, DC, Department of General Services has awarded Swedish construction giant Skanska USA Building a $72 million contract to modernize and expand the District’s largest elementary school, Lafayette Elementary. According to the DGS, the project will grow the school's size from 113,600 square feet to 120,000 square feet.
- The project includes the restoration of the existing schoolhouse facade, interior renovation of the section of the school built in the 1930s, enlargement of the existing parking lot, renovation of all exterior play and field surfaces, green roofs and other storm water management features. The project is designed to achieve a minimum certification of LEED Gold. Scheduled for completion in November 2016, the school, which is currently home to 700 students, will be able to accommodate 800 students when completed.
- The Lafayette project is part of a $3.2 billion, 10-year District of Columbia Public School Modernization Program initiated in 2007. The project requires construction of "swing space," which will accommodate students and staff during the construction process after the 1970s wing of the school is demolished to make room for the new addition.
Although Skanska is well known for high-profile infrastructure projects like the Boston Green Line and the Bayonne Bridge, it has a significant number of school projects under its belt as well. In addition to the Lafayette project, Skanska also has two spec commercial office properties underway in Washington.
Despite some setbacks its U.S. civil division last year, Skanska seems to be forging ahead with its U.S. strategy. In September, a company executive announced plans for an expansion of its property development business into new U.S. markets in response to an increased demand for office space, and its building division announced late last year an investment in a mixed-use residential building in Boston and a $56 million contract for a Portland, OR, hotel.
This school project, with its environment-friendly features and LEED certification, is definitely in Skanska's wheelhouse, as the company has been a longtime participant in the sustainability and climate change arenas and is a signatory to multiple global initiatives. Prior to the COP21 International Climate talks in Paris in December, Skanska was also one of 54 building and real estate companies that signed the Building and Real Estate Climate Declaration, which urges policymakers to tackle climate change, a fight the declaration calls one of the "greatest economic opportunities of the 21st Century."