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Key West High School

Key West, Florida

While sunny Key West, Florida, may sound like the ideal work environment, it can pose a challenge for a design team and contractors charged with replacing the lone high school in the area. As construction manager-at-risk for the replacement of the Conch Republic’s only high school, Heery International faced a number of challenges. These included phased construction on an occupied school site, the difficulties of working in a remote location, and the construction requirements of a building designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Construction during hurricane season also posed a number of challenges.

The existing school is located on approximately 24 acres and is also the site of the new school. Therefore, phased construction of the new facility required construction of portions of the new facility followed by demolition to prepare a site for the next area to be built. This phasing, in addition to extending the construction schedule, provided a number of challenges.  Chief among these was to maintain good relationships with both the school and the local community.

The location at the end of a 120-mile long string of islands has provided its share of challenges. The most critical of these is the relatively small pool of qualified contractors. The Heery team did some aggressive marketing of the project to encourage good participation.

The first phase of the approximately $40 million school included a new 998-seat auditorium and attached band, choral music and drama classrooms. The facility includes a full fly-loft, orchestra pit and stage level dressing rooms.  As the largest theater in Key West, the local community, as well as the high school, use  the facility. The remainder of the 205,000 SF school was built in three phases over three years.