Summary & Benefits

Gilbert Architects recently installed the first reimbursable pre-cast concrete modular facilities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, at B. Reed Henderson High School, West Chester Area School District.  The pre-cast concrete classrooms were selected because of the potential for reimbursement, flexibility, durability, and ease of installation.  The classrooms can be removed, adjusted and reused at other locations, just as quickly as they were initially installed. West Chester Area School District did not actually seek reimbursement on this project, because the units will be relocated to another of the district’s schools at the end of the Henderson HS construction project.

Utilizing pre-cast classrooms for the expansion project helped to eliminate the unsightly appearance of temporary trailers and provided the district with a more efficient use of space.  The pre-cast modular facilities are designed with full-size windows that permit increased levels of daylight to enter the classrooms; and the interiors have 9’-6′ ceiling heights allowing for a more open feeling, providing students with a more comfortable atmosphere for learning then traditional trailers. Vertical unit ventilators were utilized, which are ducted within the classrooms, providing a much quieter teaching environment.

Project Details

The pre-cast system installed at B. Reed Henderson High School encompasses six classrooms and an internal corridor, each classroom is approx. 768 sq. ft., totaling 5,648 sq. ft. The six pre-cast classrooms are composed of a total of 12 school block modules with floor slabs, twelve wall panels and three corridor roofing slabs. The roof slab is not an exposed piece, and must be covered with a roof material.  Trusses, low-sloping, shingles, almost any roof can be added to the structures.  The exterior walls are factory insulated and painted, and the interior classroom walls are also pre-painted, prior to being shipped to the site, in order to further reduce the installation time. After installation of foundations on site, the pre-cast modules arrived and were completely assembled within two days.  The units also had the electrical, data, and cable TV, boxes installed with pull wires, for ease of field installation of the electrical components.  The dividing partitions between classrooms were constructed of metal stud and abuse resistant gypsum wall board.

Comparison Highlights of Pre-cast vs. Traditional Modular Classrooms

  • PlanCon Reimbursement – The pre-cast modular is considered a standard classroom and would receive PDE capacity/reimbursement if the district is considering a PlanCon project on the building where it is housed, vs. substandard traditional modular that receive no reimbursement.  PDE regulation for modular classrooms to qualify for reimbursement requires that the floor structure be wholly made of steel and/or concrete.
  • Cost – Pre-cast is favorably compared to the cost of traditional modular classrooms. Slightly more on the front-end cost, but the building is a permanent, district-owned facility worth higher value then a traditional trailer.
  • Life Expectancy – Pre-cast modular classrooms have a 40+ life expectancy, whereas the traditional modular classroom is 15+ years.
  • Fire Resistance – Pre-cast concrete is optimal because they are composed of concrete, vs. traditional modular classrooms composed of a wood frame.

  • Deterioration – Pre-cast concrete is optimal, because there s no potential for wood rot or insect damage.
  • Configuration Flexibility – Pre-cast classrooms permit multiple options not available with a traditional modular. With the 8’, 10’ or 12’ wide pre-cast modules, the interior walls can be installed in any number of configurations.
  • Expansion & Relocation – Additional pre-cast modular can be added to expand the footprint, and can accept second story additions—pre-cast modular classrooms are not limited to the original configuration.
  • Accessibility – Pre-cast concrete facilities are installed at ground level, with minimal need for ramps, stairs and walkways, based on final grades at each entry level.
  • Exterior Finishes  – include stucco type finishes, cast in or applied brick finish or epoxy paint, vs. traditional modular that only permit vinyl siding or T1-11 Wood – painted or stained.