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Behind the Project: Garth Worthington K-9 School

Updated: Jan 31

We sat down with Mohammad Moayyed, Senior Associate, to discuss an interesting alternative delivery model project he’s worked on.

Thanks so much for sitting down with us, Mohammad. Tell us about this project.

Mohammad: Thanks for having me. This project is the new Garth Worthington K-9 School in Edmonton. We delivered this project under the IPD model, integrated project delivery, providing both Structural and Building Envelope services. We also provided Fire Engineering services for the mass timber feature stair made of glue-laminated timber (GLT).

The architectural vision of this project is quite unique in that it is a tribute to the school’s namesake, Garth Worthington, who was a music teacher with Edmonton Public Schools for 33 years. The façade of the school looks like piano keys with the windows placed to evoke the notes on a piece of sheet music, specifically the notes from the first line of Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi, a favourite of Worthington’s.

Wow, what a creative and lovely tribute to that teacher! Can you describe the IPD process in more detail as well as and what the benefits of that process were to this project?

Mohammad: Of course. IPD, or integrated project delivery, brings together a project team to share responsibility and liability for a project outcome based on an approved budget for a pre-determined project scope. Then, the parties involved, such as the client, consultants, contractor, and sub-trades, make a commitment to deliver the project within the scope, schedule, and budget.

In IPD, before doing anything, we first outline the team culture, owner objectives, and financial goals. Beyond the technical capabilities of the team members, an IPD team invests substantial effort into developing and maintaining a strong team culture of mutual trust, respect, and alignment of goals and values. The owner’s business objectives are more than just the budget and schedule goals. We focus on performance, wellness, and societal impacts. In addition, the financial goal is a constructive combination of the owner’s financial parameters and the team’s financial interests.

The benefit of this project delivery method is that it incentivizes deep collaboration and cooperation, creating a sense of shared ownership among the entire team. It’s in everyone’s best interest to achieve the common objectives.

As for the benefits to this particular project, IPD allowed the team to complete the project under the approved budget and schedule while achieving the owner’s needs and design aspirations. The fantastic and elegant school building opened its doors to students and teachers last September.

Were there any challenges in working on this project, or lessons learned when it comes to this delivery model?

Mohammad: One of the design challenges was related to 21st Century Learning Environments, which is a new design approach. We had to design the structural system to accommodate open and free column spaces while staying within the budget by creating regular column grids and eliminating fabrication and construction complexities. The collaborative environment of the IPD model allowed us to find the scheme that perfectly worked for the architectural functional program while being simple enough to optimize the structural cost. This was all thanks to the “Big Room” discussions we had, during which we tried a number of options in a short period of time to land on the final floor plan.

During construction as well, new information about the site soil condition was found that created some concern with regard to the long-term performance of the already designed grade-supported slab for the main floor. As such, we had to switch to a suspended slab without causing any delay in construction. As the foundation was completed at that stage, we faced several challenges. During this time, we really experienced the value of the IPD model in how the entire team worked together to resolve this issue on time.

What has been your favourite part of this project?

Seeing the IPD process from onboarding all the way to completion was a great experience. And not only that, but the final product itself is a beautiful and meaningful school that will serve the community for years to come.


Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, Mohammad.

If you’d like to learn more about this project, or IPD, reach out to Mohammad Moayyed.

Images and drone footage courtesy the IPD project team.


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