Austin ISD Menchaca Elementary School

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MENCHACA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL The new, 98,600 square foot Menchaca Elementary School, located in Austin, replaces the existing school residing on the same campus. The new school is comprised of three inter-connected buildings featuring makerspaces, collaborative work areas, and an innovative media library with a learning staircase. The new elementary school will accommodate up to 870 students in 40 classrooms. The classrooms, called studios, are painted vibrant primary colors of greens, oranges, blues, and reds. These colors, along with the vast glass windows throughout, are meant to bring the colors of nature, including the Texas wildflowers, inside the classroom. Incorporating the existing heritage trees into the new school was important to school

administrators. These trees surround the school and are grouped to create courtyards. More than 30% of the campus is open space, creating additional space for student learning. Uniquely different about this project is the way in which it was designed and constructed. Beginning with how students, faculty and administrators wanted to interact, teach, learn, and play was the basis of the collaborative Campus Architectural Team (CAT). Defining these goals during the pre-planning resulted in a truly transformational school and campus for Menchaca Elementary School students and teachers. Innovative construction processes, coupled with a collaborative team of stakeholders, resulted in expedited design of six months and an on-time completed construction schedule.

INNOVATION TECHNIQUE: LEAN CONSTRUCTION Joeris has perfected using construction lean principles on projects, including using these methods during the design and construction of Menchaca Elementary School. Lean construction principles focus on building collaborative relationships at the beginning of the project and gaining buy-in from all stakeholders. The results of lean processes on this project was reduced challenges and effective coordination between the trade partners and owner.

The first step to implementing lean best practices was to train not only our project team, but our trade partners as well. The lean on-boarding included introducing the theory of lean building construction and the significance of adhering to lean methods. The most important aspect of the training was comprehending the “customer mindset.� The goal of the lean customer mindset is to deliver the maximum customer value in the shortest sustainable lead time while providing the highest quality possible to the customer.

The next step of lean implementation was to train everyone on how to work using the Last Planner System. One of the most critical steps the project team had to take was creating the project schedule. Rather than using a traditional scheduling method such as the Critical Path Method, the project team and trade partners would work backward from a given completion date, outlining the sequence and network of activities required to complete that milestone. The new elementary school was broken down into smaller phases with each phase requiring a pull planning session. The project team and trade partners made verbal commitments regarding resource allocation, material deliveries and duration times. Once all the pull planning sessions were complete, this schedule of work was entered and updated in a digital scheduler called Touch Plan.


The Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota first developed lean processes through their use of continuous improvement practices on their production assembly line. Since this adaptation of “Kaizen,” or continual improvement, many industries have applied the same principles to many different industries, including the construction industry.

The final step in this process occurred throughout construction and kept accountability among the entire team. Weekly trade partner coordination meetings were held to review the previous week’s commitments and to make commitments for the following week. In addition, daily huddles occurred with all subcontractor foremen and the Joeris superintendent and lasted only 15-20 minutes each day. This quick, standing meeting kept the group all on the same page about where each other would be working in the building, manpower, deliveries, and issues that could potentially arise through the course of construction for the day.








CHALLENGES: SETTING THE STANDARD The most challenging part of this project did not have anything to do with the construction of the school, but instead was the result of the order of the projects to be completed in the 2017 Bond Program. As the very first project in the program to undergo design and construction, many of the processes were not yet established. This project laid the groundwork for the district to finesse their processes and set a standard for all other general contractors responsible for construction of other building packages within the bond program. As a part of the Campus Architectural Team (CAT), Joeris worked closely with the other members to work through identifying and solidifying how certain construction processes were to be completed, this included buyout and closeout processes (to name a few).

AISD Campus Architectural Team The Campus Architectural Team Included: • Joeris General Contractors • LPA, Inc. • AECOM • Engineers • Austin ISD administration, faculty, and students The resolution to this challenge was simple: collaboration and communication. The project team worked closely with the CAT members, proactively communicating suggested resolutions for traffic flow around the existing campus, pull-planning for the district’s telecommunications needs, and coordinating permitting and inspections with multiple municipalities.

MEETING NEEDS: AISD GROWTH The new, modernized, Menchaca Elementary opened in January 2020 to excited students and faculty. Their old, outdated and cramped school demolished. The Joeris project team, along with our CAT team members, have set the standard for future Austin ISD schools. “This school, along with all the other incredible projects included in the bond, will create learning spaces that meet the needs of current and future generations of learners and leaders.” Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz.