Plans for new California City high school and elementary schools
California City high school to use new construction technology
May also be used on Tehachapi hospital
BY BILL DEAVER, Mojave Desert News
TEMECULA When construction of the new high school in California City begins, that effort could be kicked-off at two widely-separated locations. The same could happen for a new hospital and medical facility planned for Tehachapi.
Ground will be broken at the two sites, but work on the structures themselves will begin in a modern, high-tech building in Perris, south of Riverside.
To learn more about the new technology to be used to build California City High School and, perhaps, the Tehachapi medical facility, which will also serve California City and Mojave, we recently visited the headquarters of a company called Turnkey Schools at its headquarters in Temecula and its new factory a few miles up Interstate 215 in Perris.
My wife and I made the trip because we wanted to see first-hand how Turnkey's technology differs from both conventional "stick" construction and the mobilehome-like method of building portable classrooms.
Turnkey's way of doing things is significantly different from both, and the results cannot be distinguished from conventional construction.
When the company was created five years age, "we took a hard look at how schools were being built," explained Rudy Lopez, Turnkey's vice-president for business development.
The result is a technology that uses the most modern materials to construct school buildings in 12 by 40-foot sections that are transported to the site and assembled into buildings that look no different than those built using conventional methods.
The 12x40 unit does not constrain architects and school officials, Lopez said.
"We start with the design and implement our system," he said.
Saving time and money
The result is double savings for school districts and anyone else using Turnkey's technology.
Turnkey Chief Executive Officer Harry Clark said the system saves about 20 percent of building costs while speeding construction.
"We're assembling the buildings here in Perris while work is underway at the site," said Clark during a tour of the 97,000-sq. foot plant. Using conventional construction, everything is done on a linear basis beginning with site work.
"We can save up to four months over conventional construction," Clark said.
Wiring, plumbing, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning components are installed before units leave the factory, further speeding the process.
Units are currently about 55 percent complete when they leave &emdash; that will soon rise to 70 percent when roofing is installed and concrete added to wall panels to eliminate the need for on-site stuccoing .
Cost savings come from having a permanent work force that is constantly being trained while realizing savings from purchasing materials on large quantities, Clark said.
There are no weather delays inside the plant, which is painted with warm, muted colors lit by a profusion of skylights and electric lighting. Although it was very hot outside, temperatures inside the plant were comfortable.
The plant's design is part of Turnkey's emphasis on the environment, Clark emphasized. No formaldehyde or other potentially toxic materials are used in construction and very little wood. The six-inch-thick walls resulting from the size of the steel beams give a well-insulated structure with significant energy savings over its life, he said. The steel the company uses is 96 percent recycled.
Clark said Turnkey also emphasizes quality.
"We don't do cheap!"
One feature at the Perris plant that can be installed in its projects is a waterless urinal in mens' restrooms. It works, (I tried it!) there's no odor, and the unit saves some 40,000 gallons of water a year at the plant.
Treating employees right
Clark, an art aficionado whose collection brightens the Temecula and Perris offices, said Turnkey considers its largely-Hispanic employees as partners.
"We invest in education to be the very best," he said, adding that every Turnkey employee, from janitor to himself, has an e-mail address and access to the company's computer network.
For workers on the Perris floor, access is through terminals spotted all over the facility that are accessed through cards that are "swiped" through card readers.
"Whenever there's a break, everyone rushed to the terminals," Lopez said while demonstrating the system.
The Perris facility's formal name is the "Perris Academy of Respecto and Commuindad," or "PARC," recognizing, Clark said, the emphasis on respect and community &emdash; and communication &emdash; in the Hispanic culture.
That respect was visible in the PARC's offices where lights were off in a hall outside the office of the facility's popular office manager who died unexpectedly earlier in the week. A small shrine had been set up and employees were wearing black for a memorial service planned for that afternoon instead of the weekly, Friday party held in Perris and Temecula.
Turnkey's commitment to technology extends to on-line cameras that allow customers &emdash; and taxpayers &emdash; to watch a project being built. The URL for the CCHS webcam will be published when the project begins.
While the Mojave Unified School District has already chosen Turnkey to build the California City High School, the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District is working with Aspen Street Architects and a committee that includes this writer and Gisela Schulz of California City to decide if the firm will build the new medical facility.
PLUMBING &emdash; Turnkey Schools CEO Harry Clark points to plumbing and other components installed in buildings the firm constructs for schools and other facilities in its Perris plant.
WINDOWS &emdash; Workers at Turnkey Schools' new facility in Perris move window units that fit in the structure's six-inch-thick walls.
PUSH &emdash; Female employee easily pushes a completed 12x42-foot steel component that will be assembled into a new school. Unit rides on wheels and rails in the 97,000-sq. foot plant.
BUILDERS &emdash; Turnkey Schools workers assemble 12x40-foot units that will be assembled to build a new high school.
ROOF &emdash; Worker at Turnkey Schools easily lifts a completed
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