2023 Education
1st Runner-Up
(People’s Choice Winner)

The A. Gary Walsingham Academy in Panama City Beach, Florida, is built with Nudura ICFs. It is the first new school built in the area after Hurricane Michael’s landfall with 160 mph winds, and it is the first ICF project for the school district. The school is in a fast-growing community just a few miles from the Gulf Coast, and the second floor was being completed while school was in session. Thanks to the ICFs, the concrete is both disaster-resistant and provides great sound absorption.

Construction and Design
The school is 148,800 square feet and was designed to hold 800 students; the core spaces are built to handle an additional 300. The U-shaped, 2-story school building houses administrative offices, media rooms, and classrooms. “It was decided that ICF would be utilized on the exterior walls and the interior, double-loaded corridors,” explains Melinda Lindsey, architect and project manager with architectural firm Clemons, Rutherford & Associates (CRA). “This design broke up the floor plate, but allowed the roof trusses to bear on these walls and created an acoustical barrier to outside traffic. The freestanding Cafetorium utilized girder trusses to support the long, deep joists spanning to the exterior ICF walls.”

This project was scheduled to start when Hurricane Michael devastated the area, then was put on hold for a year. Then, the Notice to Proceed was given right before Covid shut everything down, so Lindsey says that resources, materials, labor, and price escalations were constant challenges. The site had poor soils and removal and/or allowable settling took months to achieve. Timber piles were utilized to carry the heavy loading. Lindsey says the technical design and construction support provided by Nudura helped the project architect and engineer feel very comfortable designing with ICFs, even though they had no prior experience with ICFs. “The finished product exceeded expectations in quality and aesthetic and the owner has subsequently designed three other district buildings with ICFs,” Lindsey says.

The state of Florida requires that publicly funded projects conform to a green building standard, but they also must follow a stringent energy conservation code. “The use of ICF has allowed us to easily meet the exterior envelope requirements,” Lindsey says. “The use of LED lighting, occupancy sensors, low-flow plumbing fixtures, a chilled water system etc. were other methods utilized” to achieve a high level of sustainability.
ICF is used occasionally for construction in this coastal area, but ICFs had not been implemented in any other school district buildings. In this case, the school district wanted to utilize a robust system that would stand through storms and last decades. The Walsingham Academy is adjacent to a newly constructed regional sports complex with a new community growing up around it. The school district’s goals of an energy efficient building that could be quickly occupied were realized through the use of ICFs. The exposure and interest in this project directly contributed to many other ICF projects being specified by CRA and other regional architects in the coastal panhandle and western Florida regions including Panama City, Sarasota, New Port Richey and Bradenton.

This was a publicly funded project and though the basis of design was Nudura, the lowest, qualified bidder was selected. The ICF brand was selected based on the owner and the design/construction team research and site visits to an Escambia County School District project site that had previous experience building with ICF. The final selection for the ICF install contractor was based on previous experience building projects of similar scope and scale, ability to meet the construction schedule, and providing a competitive price.

Project Statistics 

Location: Panama City Beach, Florida

Type: Elementary school

Size: 148,800 sq. ft.

ICF Use: 130,407 sq. ft.

Cost: $37,860,000

Total Construction: 108 weeks

ICF Installation Time: 190 days

Construction Team 

Owner: Bay County School District

General Contractor: ReliantSouth Construction Group

ICF Installer: PCS

Form Distributor: Nudura 

Architect: Clemons, Rutherford & Associates

ICF System: Nudura

Fast Facts 

  • First new school built after Hurricane Michael’s 160 mph wind landfall
  • First ICF project for the school district
  • Great acoustics & sound absorption
  • Second floor finished during school session



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