2019 Light Commercial 

Bend, Oregon is one of the first cities that really accepted ICF construction, and over the past few decades, more than 300 projects have been built in the area with ICF. 

The latest high-profile commercial project in the city is a gymnasium built for Kenwood Elementary School. It’s a replacement for a 1940s-era gym that collapsed in the fall of 2016 just as the school year was getting underway. 

Fortunately, no one was hurt. However, the school district faced a major challenge in rebuilding, as the building would have to be built on the same congested site as the old gym, school was already in session, and winter weather was quickly approaching. 

First completed in 1919, Kenwood School was approaching its 100th birthday, and the district wanted the new gym to “honor the past with an eye toward the future.” They instructed the design firm, BBT Architects, to match the architecture of the historic school, replicating the look of the old gym but also incorporating digital thermostats and energy efficient wall systems, doors, and windows to meet the current and future needs.

As ICFs are a well-known technology in the area, it was an easy choice. Fox Blocks was chosen as the brand.

Mike Dalzell, Fox’s regional advisor, lives in Bend and has promoted ICFs in the region for more than 25 years. He explains, “One of the reasons why ICF was chosen for this project was cost; although not of the material itself. Rather, the owners worried about the tangential expenses that would be incurred while construction was underway. If they used masonry, they would have to tarp the entire building and heat it [due to winter temperatures], an extremely expensive and time-consuming endeavor. In addition to that, the staging of the masonry would have had a major impact on traffic, as the jobsite footprint was too small to have it staged at one location.” 

The ICF installer, Rock Solid Precast, is also based in Bend, and has been building with ICFs for more than 15 years. Dalzell says, “They have completed 100-plus ICF projects over the years, and knew how to do it right.”

The design was a simple rectangle, with walls rising to 28 feet above grade with no intermediate floors. The city lot jobsite had virtually no extra room, with streets on three sides and school in session on the fourth side. Deliveries had to be precisely scheduled a to minimize traffic delays.

By the time the wreckage of the old gym was cleared away and new footings were in place, it was approaching Christmas, and ICF work began in the dead of winter. Fortunately, because the foam sidewalls insulate the concrete, work continued with virtually no additional heading and hoarding expenses.

To prevent snow or ice from building up in the ICF form cavity, the contractor had to block off the top of the wall every night with rigid foam and tarps. Despite the extra work involved, ICF accelerated the overall project timeline, pushing the GC almost three weeks ahead of schedule.

In a nod to environmental sensitivities, the installer utilized most of the scrap in the installation process, and what wasn’t used was recycled. Brick from the original structure was salvaged and used for the entry of the new gymnasium; the remainder of the old brick was recycled.

The masonry façade was applied in the spring when temperatures had warmed. The project was completed on time and on budget, ready to go for the new school year. 

Bend-La Pine School District now enjoys a modern gym that is safe, energy efficient, and solid. With classes underway, they noticed a welcome side benefit: the PE classes no longer hear the band practicing in the music room off the stage! 

Dalzell says, “It is a small project, but the impact that it has had on the local area is immeasurable. That a disaster was avoided with the collapse of the original gym is a miracle. The building of the new gymnasium has in some ways healed the community and replaced the anxiety with pride in a new gymnasium that exceeds the codes, both structurally and energy efficiency wise.” 

Project Statistics 

Location: Bend, Oregon 
Type: Detached Elementary School Gym 
Size: 11,560 sq. ft. (floor) 
ICF Use: 11,450 sq. ft.  
Cost: $4.3 million 
Total Construction: 32 weeks 
ICF Installation Time: 21 days 

Construction Team 

Owner: Bend-La Pine School District 
General Contractor: Kirby Nagelhout Construction 
ICF Installer: Rock Solid Precast 
Form Distributor: Airlite Plastics 
Architect: BBT Architects 
Engineering: Walker Structural Engineering 
Add’l Team Member: G&K Masonry 
ICF System: Fox Blocks 

Fast Facts

Replacement for Historic Gym
Matched Architecture of Adjacent School
28-Foot Walls, Winter Construction
Extensive Publicity


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