​Binkley Garcia Selected to Design Middle Schools

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Aug. 8 special called meeting, the Franklin County School Board voted to offer the contract for design of the two new middle schools to Binkley Garcia Architecture (BGA) based in Nashville. The decision followed extensive interviews with the top candidates, which included the Knoxville-based firms McCarty Holsaple McCarty (MHM) and Red Chair Architects.
“All three are excellent,” said school board representative Adam Tucker. “For me, the driving considerations are the scale of the firm relative to our needs, the individualized focus we’re going to get from them, and on a personal and professional level what will work best for us.”
While all three firms have extensive experience designing and renovating PreK through 12 schools, BGA’s primary focus is educational structures, with more than 60 schools to their credit. Several BGA schools have received awards, among them Tusculum Elementary in Metro Nashville. Like the Franklin County middle schools project, the design included retaining the existing gym with classes continuing in the old school during construction. Other projects followed a similar model, part demolition and part new construction.
In terms of firm size, BGA occupied the middle ground compared to MHM, the largest firm in Knoxville, and the three person team at Red Chair Architects.
“Who you see here tonight will be involved all the way through the process,” said BGA principal Roy Garcia. Garcia will be in charge of the production and design process; Drew Ewing will serve as project manager, team leader, and coordinate with the engineers; and principal Joseph Binkley will be the primary contact.
“We have a good working relationship with contractors throughout middle Tennessee,” Binkley stressed, “and throughout the design process consult with them about current costs and cost changes.”
Describing what to expect during the design process, Binkley said, “You determine who the representatives from the user groups are. It’s important for us to get together with them from the beginning, to get around the table with the appropriate people.”
“We design around your needs,” Garcia said. “How the end users experience the building is what matters.”
Binkley described the firm’s office environment as an open space with architects, project managers and support staff working together in a single large room “with everyone involved in what’s going on.”
“We have a quality control check list we use in all stages and keep a running tab of issues on sticky notes on the wall,” Garcia said.
“We all see it on the wall until it’s resolved,” Binkley added. “We’ll come to you for plan review comments and keep them on file until the project is completed. We’ll help you administer the bid process and represent you throughout construction.”
BGA projected finalizing design documents in 8-12 weeks. The proposed timeline calls for the two new schools to be completed in 2020.