Details Built to Last

Saint Martins_HClass is back in session this week at Saint Martin’s University, meaning the school’s signature courtyard will welcome back the echo of flip flops, tennis shoes, high-heels and wingtips. Just four years ago, the courtyard’s creation started with a contractor’s socks.

In 2012, SCJ Alliance was the driving force behind the redevelopment of the one-acre courtyard at the heart of this picturesque college campus. The space was transformed from an outdated gravel oval to an award-winning courtyard with a fountain, decorative concrete, and a grass-paved fire lane, and the team remembers fondly focusing on the fine points from top to bottom.

Saint Martins_F“When the concrete contractor was manicuring the concrete slab, he would take off his work boots and walk around in his socks,” Ross Jarvis, project manager at SCJ explained. “I have never seen a contractor do that before. It exemplified the care provided during construction and extra sense of detail that everyone contributed.”

“The university challenged us to design and construct something that would last,” he said. “They treat their grounds with great reverence, and everyone from the design team to the contractor recognized that.”

SCJ landscape architect Jeff Glander was also on the team and had that same sense of pride over the details. He noted the dual purpose of the site and the extra touches that make it stand out.

“The updated plaza provides both meditative garden space for the monks at Saint Martin’s Abbey and arrival wayfinding for visitors to the university admissions office,” shared Jeff, who at the time owned Jeffrey B. Glander & Associates.

He added, “Other design features include a 300-foot-long brick wall with arched ‘windows’ between the monastery and student areas, extensive landscape renovation, drainage improvements, site and landscape lighting, and new pedestrian pathways.”

SMU Courtyard 3The multidisciplinary team navigated several obstacles during design and construction such as shallow hardpan, unmapped utilities, and ADA compliance with constraints from existing features. Stormwater is collected in a surface trench drain that is part of the decorative concrete flat work and is infiltrated within a gallery beneath the grass-pave fire lane.

The design and construction management led by SCJ delivered a product that received an “Excellence in Concrete Construction” award recognized by the Washington Aggregates and Concrete Association, and Ross says that was just the beginning.

“In the end, this project was about delivering a courtyard that the great people at Saint Martin’s will use and enjoy,” Ross said. “The longevity and commitment they envisioned for the space stuck with me. They asked for a courtyard that would withstand 100 years.”

Four down, 96 to go. Welcome back, students!

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