It’s in the air. Not just pollen, but #BackToSchool season! As parents bustle to get school supplies purchased and organized, and kids rush to get in their last few days of freedom, the schools themselves are preparing for a full and fun year of educating young minds. At OAC, we’re thrilled to play our part in making schools feel fresh and renewed.

In addition to healthcare, transportation, and top-tier projects for Microsoft, Facebook, sports facilities, and more, a core pillar of our work has always been rooted in education. For nearly two decades, our dedicated staff at OAC has managed the planning, design and construction of more than $2 billion in K12 facilities, amassing dozens of projects over the past decade alone.

We understand how important schools are to our communities. That’s why we focus on providing optimal delivery methodologies while unifying planning, construction, and design in a way that enhances teaching and learning while providing state-of-the-art, energy-efficient, safe and healthy schools.

Building For How We Learn

A thoughtfully built school does not begin or end with the right paint colors or a fun playground, although each of those are definitely parts of the equation. When OAC manages a learning environment project like a school, we start with considering what it actually means to learn, and how we do it best.

In 1983, Howard Gardner introduced the ‘multiple intelligences’ theory – an argument that upended the traditional measurement of intelligence (IQ) and suggested a broader range of how to determine intellect, and thus, posited how education and learning environments should be refocused to adapt to all types of learners.

At the root of this thinking is an understanding of varying modes of learning each person is naturally inclined to gravitate to. In other words, what works for one student might not necessarily work for another.

You can take an assessment to determine very specifically what type of learner you are here.

For a moment, consider the environment or setting that would best assist you with learning.

  • Are you in a large group, small group or working on your own individual path?
  • Are you inside or outdoors?
  • Do you feel safe?
  • Is it messy, or clean?
  • Are you working with your hands?
  • Is the built environment getting in the way or supporting you to reach greater heights?

These base considerations and more like them play a significant role in the “user experience” of any built learning space, especially a school. Just as different students need to interact with different learning tools to succeed, modern schools need adaptability and technology to meet these needs.

Revamping Jefferson Lincoln Elementary School

Our latest education project is an overhaul at Jefferson Lincoln Elementary School (JLES) and Fords Prairie Elementary, both part of the Centralia School District in Washington state. In an effort to revamp these schools originally built in the 40’s and 50’s, OAC managed the planning, demolition, design and construction of JLES together with:

BCRA – Architect; Tahoma
Metrix Engineering
BCE Engineering – Engineering
PCS Structural Solutions Engineering
AHBL Engineering – Civil
FORMA – General Contractor
SARE – Electric

When we began working with the school district on this project, the supreme considerations from district stakeholders included:

  • Having a firm experienced in education.
  • Working with a firm that could manage a bond program with tight parameters.
  • A concrete background in Alternative Delivery practices.

We’re thrilled to have delivered this project ahead of the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

School districts continually work on refining the ways they can best serve their students and their educators alike, in the service of optimizing education at large for their community. Likewise, OAC EDU’s project managers are on the forefront of utilizing technology and methodologies to improve how schools, classrooms, support spaces, play areas, and other aspects of the built learning environment can respond to these same learning needs.

In all we do with schools, our expertise and technology align with genuine, caring people to create spaces that make learning and educating fresh, thoughtful and delightful. What we can learn from teachers, faculty and students can directly impact how and where students learn and how educators teach, with the work we do together.


Design & Construction Management. Building Sciences.

OAC has a history of success with specialized design and construction because we love what we do. We serve our clients as collaborators, and we design and manage projects that improve where people live, work, learn and play. Because of this, we’ve gathered a superlative staff of professionals who share our core values, and our vision – do what we love in the service of people who love what we do.