Featured Building: Westminster Christian Academy Modular Classrooms
Posted by: Admin on Monday, August 16, 2010 at 7:47:56 pm
In early 2009, Rose Offices installed approximately ten thousand square
feet of classroom space for a private school in North Alabama.
- Our signature “Architectural Block” Hardipanel Siding in stucco pattern
- Specialty brick look perimeter foundation cover
- EFIS trim molding package on corners, doors, windows and roofline
- Designer paint colors
- Pad mounted HVAC units
Because of varying age groups and functions, the school chose to separate the campus into three buildings.
For this project, we installed our new Architectural Block Hardipanel
siding material combined with EFIS trim package on the doors, windows,
corners and roofline.
The Rose Signature Architectural Block Hardipanel Siding is a new
innovation in modular siding. The deep reveal edge pattern accentuates
the seams rather than trying to hide them. This process eliminates the
unsightly cracks that can develop over time. It also creates an
appealing first impression for your commercial application. You won’t
find attention to detail like this with anyone else but Rose.
When asked to share their experience with our company, we received a
glowing review and detailed overview of the installation of the
buildings from start to finish.
We are pleased to share it with you:
Christian Academy is the largest ministry of Westminster Presbyterian
Church in Huntsville, AL. The school currently has an enrollment of 640
students in grade K-5 to 12. In 2001 the church and school
independently reviewed our missions and determined we needed to
relocate to better serve our individual membership. We also surveyed
the Westminster School family and they overwhelmingly (>90%) wanted
the church to be located with the school. We were able to purchase a
42-acre tract in a prime location through a very generous arrangement
with a local family at far below market value. A combination of
challenges led us to delay construction until early 2008. Both
increases in construction costs since 2001 and the uncertainties with
financial markets caused us to build significantly less than we desired.
Some of the facilities what we could not build were offices, library,
and music facilities for the school, and a nursery for the church.
of the blessings for our church and schools was number of dedicated
individuals with design, project management, and construction
backgrounds. This gave us the ability to give careful consideration to
most aspects of our project. Even so, the approach to include modular
facilities as part of the overall project was one of the three most
difficult decisions we made on the project that ended up costing over
The concerns, expressed by almost everyone, were
how the modular facilities would look, and how they would last. These
two concerns were persistent because the school had purchased two
modular buildings to use as interim athletic locker rooms and the
experience with these units was problematic. To start with, these two
modular units were standard designs from (a competitive modular company
who shall be referred to as Competitor A) for school use. We got them
in used but functional condition at a favorable price. Installation was
more expensive that we were initially quoted and one of the air
conditioning units quit working the week after the warranty expired.
The aesthetics left a lot to be desired, but this was a stop-gap measure
for a specific time period—that has long-since expired with the units
still in the same location.
School had very specific needs in the modular buildings: Office space
for day-to-day operations of the support staff, library and study
facilities for the students, and music facilities for band and choir.
The school was in interim facilities for a year where the band/choir
room was adjacent to the office, so we quickly determined a separate
building was needed for music. At the same time, the school acknowledge
the permanent facilities for offices, music, and library were 5-10
years away since the next two phases for building were completing the
parts of the classroom building that were deferred due to costs. This
timeframe drove the separate consideration of longevity of the
facilities under day-to-day wear and tear and aesthetic compatibility
with other portions of the project.
The church had very different
considerations. The first was projecting both the image and the
reality of permanence for facilities for our children. The second major
consideration was there were no areas in the school facilities that
were age appropriate and available. The church realized several million
dollars from sale of our previous property, but all that money was
committed to secure the loan for the school to build the new facilities.
The money will be released as funds are raised by the school, then the
church will build a sanctuary on the same property. In the meantime
the church is meeting in the school gymnasium. However, the final
location of the sanctuary will be several hundred feet from the
gymnasium. Both prudence and stewardship dictated the church not build
conventional facilities since in 2-5 years, Lord willing, we will be
building sanctuary that cannot be served by nursery near the gymnasium.
The solution was to use modular facilities that can be relocated for
about 10% of initial cost rather than building nursery facilities
Our Process for Evaluation
I am an engineer and I
make my living by figuring out the best way to do things. The “best
way” is deceptively difficult because “best” is most decidedly in the
eye of the beholder. Emotions are not bad, but it is very easy for
Satan to use our emotions against us. We are also called to be good
stewards in all things, and that means making considered decisions. The
approach we took was to look at the critical features for the modular
facilities. These features, which were somewhat mutually exclusive,
were cost, functionality of spaces, aesthetic compatibility with the
newly constructed facilities, and anticipated longevity of the
Armed with these factors for
consideration and our assessment of space requirements, I contacted the
largest provider of modular facilities in the area (Competitor A), the
least expensive provider (who shall remain nameless), and the one other
source specializing in church facilities (Rose Office Systems). It was
clear from my initial conversation the least expensive provider did not
meet the minimum standards of functionality, aesthetics, or anticipated
longevity. In a word, they were cheap.
The regional offices
for Competitor A and Rose are both in the Birmingham area and I visited
both offices and took tours of representative facilities. The
philosophy of the two companies are different and their products reflect
the differing philosophies. Competitor A will build custom floor plans
but their focus is on building existing designs and selecting finishes
and materials. Rose will build from their “stock designs” but their
bread and butter is custom designs for each customers. Competitor A
normally uses metal siding with “mansards” while Rose does not offer
metal siding and uses, as a minimum, Hardie Panel fiber-cement siding.
Competitor A typically uses hard (sheetrock) ceiling while Rose
typically uses lay-in acoustic ceilings. All these items fall into
aesthetics and functionality.
Of greater impact were
differences in construction. Rose significantly exceed industry
standards metal framing under the structures, thermal insulation, and
mechanical equipment. Competitor A meets industry standards. The
installations I saw from Competitor A would be useable for 5-10 years or
hard use. The installations I saw from Rose were better than most
conventional wood frame construction I have inspected. Indeed, the
units we have installed in Huntsville are rated for 110 mile and hour
winds rather than 75-90 mile per hour from other manufacturers,
including Competitor A.
In short, the real difference between
Competitor A and Rose Office Systems is quality and how that impacts
both operating cost and longevity of the structures.
got baseline cost data from both Competitor A and Rose. It was a close
as I could get to a direct comparison but Competitor A declined to
provide pricing for Hardie Panel siding and 2’ x 2’ drop in ceilings.
They priced hard ceiling and metal siding. The difference came out to
be between $2 and $3/square foot between Rose and Competitor A with
Competitor A being lower than Rose. This was about the difference
between siding and ceilings, so the cost was essentially the same
selected Rose Office Systems rather than Competitor A based on overall
quality that translates to aesthetics, and anticipated longevity, with
advantages of lower operating cost at comparable up-front cost.
decision to go with Rose has paid enormous dividends for Westminster
Church and School. Rose worked with our architect to come up with a new
approach for the exteriors that is minimally more expensive than the
Hardie Panel with battens but is much more aesthetically pleasing. Our
architects were so pleased with the results they are submitting the
Westminster Modular project for an American Institute of Architects
Everyone is either happy or ecstatic with the
results. The school staff was fighting to get offices in the modular
building because they felt the spaces were better than in the new
building. (I’m not sure I agree with that assessment, but that was the
objective feeling from the school staff.) The most common comment about
the nursery facilities is “I wouldn’t know this was a modular building
if I didn’t know it was a modular building.”
I am biased, since I was heavily involved with making the decisions.
However, I have had recent experience with both Rose Office Systems and
Competitor A. I would recommend Rose unless purchased cost was primary
If cost was the key consideration I would
consider a 60-month lease/purchase option rather than purchase a
lower-quality installation. The Westminster church used a
lease-purchase for our the Nursery facilities both because the church
funds are being used to secure the school loan and because the church
wanted to preserve funds for our future sanctuary.
I will be happy to discuss our experience at Westminster with anyone who is interested.
J. Keith Johnson
Integrated Ground Test Technical Lead