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Modular Classrooms Are a Great Resource for Community Colleges

Community colleges are hard-working sources of education found in the backyard of most local communities. Their tuition fees are generally less than half of a four-year college. While they don’t have unlimited financial resources, 1,132 of these colleges in the United States ably serve approximately 13 million students, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. 

Community college attendees include employed people with families and responsibilities, students considering transfers to four-year programs, and those pursuing an associate degree or certificate in a range of fields to qualify for immediate employment. Open enrollment makes it easy to sign up for a few courses to augment skills or simply learn something new. These colleges are also an excellent place for non-US citizens to improve their language skills and become acclimated to the US educational system and culture.  Such a melting pot of people in a variety of situations and with diverse goals depends on community colleges. This is the story of how modular solutions helped out one of those education institutions.

Modular Classrooms & Construction in Action at Community Colleges

Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) was established in 1958 and is located in Largo, Maryland, adjacent to the Washington DC metro area and not too far from FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins. PGCC currently serves 44,000 students who represent 103 countries from around the world. That is certainly a lot of needs to fulfill! In 2015, it was time to renovate/expand their Lanham Hall facility. The call came into WillScot to help make it happen.

WillScot already had modular buildings and classrooms on the campus and had built a good working relationship with the school’s administrators. The team presented the college with several case studies documenting success in projects similar to theirs and also shared information about using a cooperative purchasing network to streamline the procurement process. All of this proved most helpful to the school.

Originally, PGCC wanted their new modular classrooms ready to welcome students and faculty at the start of the 2015/2016 school year – a timeline that usually is achievable with modulars. Due to delays in the building development review process the permit wasn’t issued until mid-December 2015. Then Mother Nature entered the picture. The DC metro area was hit by record-setting snowfalls followed by consecutive days of rainfall – not the most optimum conditions for construction. The good news was the modular units were constructed, inspected and state-sealed by the local jurisdiction at a modular facility in advance of the building permit and the bad weather – an important time-saving benefit the modular process has over traditional construction. This allowed WillScot to accelerate the schedule once conditions improved.

As soon as the weather became more hospitable to progress, WillScot set to work onsite for what would become Annex A and Annex B. Unique to this project, WillScot was also the General Contractor, prepping 3.12 acres for the installation including site grading, landscaping, seven bio-retention pools, a 34-space parking lot, and preservation of a 100-year-old pond! In addition, water and sewer connections were made as well as a new transformer, main distribution panels for both buildings, and a fully addressable fire alarm/sprinkler system were installed. WillScot also tied in the IT/data to the intercampus fiber optic loop and added ADA accessible ramps to both buildings. Wait – we’re not finished yet!

For the exterior, we provided a site-installed exterior skin – a combination of brick veneer and Nichiha fiber cement to achieve texture – which gave the buildings character and matched the campus standard. During the installation, PGCC expressed a desire to emphasize the entrance to each building for easier recognition. No problem. We designed a custom “top hat” canopy that visually identifies the entrances for students as they move between classes.

Thirty-two portable classrooms were configured for Annex A and 13 for Annex B. PGCC students and faculty moved into both at the beginning of the spring 2016 semester.

Modular Classroom Solutions for Community Colleges

Many community colleges face the same campus challenges as PGCC and modular buildings are a time-saving and cost-effective solution that helps them achieve their goals. It is also a bonus to work with a modular solutions provider who can supply a wide range of products and services like WillScot.

To witness the “birth” of this project – with the snow and rainfall clearly evident – view the time lapse video.

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