International Studies Learning Center Case Study: Built on a Foundation of Trust

Kemp’s work on the recently completed International Studies Learning Center in South Gate, California is a prime example of what a team can achieve when they work together.

This successful design-build partnership didn’t sacrifice design for the sake of budget. Through creative problem-solving and money-saving collaboration, we gave future students an enriching learning environment that will last for decades.

Project Highlights

When the International Studies Learning Center first opened in 2011, the high school students attended class on the Legacy High School campus and the middle school students attended Southeast Middle School. This new addition will bring the classes together on one campus for the first time since the opening of the school. It will give students a chance to become global citizens by studying new languages and learning about world cultures.

This $30,738,000 project consisted of:

  • 29,265 square-foot classroom building
  • 4,650 square-foot administration building
  • 16,195 square-foot multipurpose and gymnasium building
  • Food service shelter
  • Bus loop
  • Parking lot
  • Site improvements

Campus Life

We wanted this space to reflect the global citizenship that the school emphasized. With that in mind, we built spaces that served the international theme.

“We brought the international into international studies.”
— Chris Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Kemp Construction

Two special elements for this school include a world map constructed out of pavers in the quad and perforated panels that highlight international landmarks, including the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower.

Why Kemp?

For this project, LAUSD used the design-build delivery method. Using this method, the Kemp team became the nucleus of the project, bringing the architects, contractors, and client together. It takes the burden of being the point of contact off the client and places it squarely in Kemp’s capable hands.

This project was a great example of a successful design-build for the Kemp team. The biggest benefit we saw? Time savings. 

Often contractors will need to go back to the architect and engineer when designs don’t pan out in the building process. This usually requires the contractors to reach out to the client, who then reaches out to the architect and engineer for a fix, which could take several days. This project’s design-build structure made it much easier to collaborate with the architect to solve design problems as they arose, often on the same day.

Utilizing the design-build method, the Kemp team also held weekly meetings to ensure a smooth process, and they were able to infuse the project with some personal design elements.

“As a design-build partner, they are right in there with us.”
Harry Drake, Principal, Gonzalez Goodale Architects

Through close work with the architects, the Kemp team was able to contribute ideas and give feedback based on constructability and design—from the concept of the building, down to the design details.

The colored pavers are a great example of this collaboration. The typically labor-intensive process could be too costly for some architect/builder teams, but the Kemp team worked on a creative solution to make it happen.

This collaboration brought additional elements to the school like the north facing floor-to-ceiling windows and the beautiful landscaping.

Working as a Team

For this project, the Kemp team worked with some very familiar staff from LAUSD, roughly the same team that worked on the Central Regional Elementary School #17 in 2010. That project won Kemp Contractor of the Year.

Because of the relationship and the trust we built with that team, we were able to work smoothly and quickly throughout the build.

Project Challenges

Like every build, we had to start from the ground up. But before even starting the construction, the Kemp team had to ensure that the site was safe for both Kemp employees and the future staff and students. This meant solving two big challenges.

  1. Chemical abatement: The previous build on the site was an auto repair shop and there was battery acid and oil that needed to be removed before any work could be done. We brought in an abatement team to ensure the build site was safe for our workers and future students.
  1. Unstable soil: The soil on the premises was also prone to liquefaction, but the Kemp team took extreme measures to ensure the buildings would be secure. We drove 188, 78-foot-long piles, 70 feet into the earth to provide a solid foundation on which to build, each pile strategically placed by experienced surveyors and contractors.

The biggest challenge with any project is coming in on time and on budget. Despite these few setbacks, Kemp pulled together and provided a stellar new school to the students, the faculty and to LAUSD. We look forward to completing more projects with this amazing team.