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Bonnie Cone Leadership Academy Buildings (K-6 & 7-12)

Summarize the project's program, features and achievements?

"The Bonnie Cone Leadership Academy, located in Huntersville, North Carolina, is a tuition-free public charter school designed to meet the needs of the rapidly growing community. The new upper and lower school buildings provide a seamless K-12 educational experience, addressing the region's demand for high-quality educational facilities.

The project encompasses two buildings totaling 135,580 square feet, designed to accommodate 2,440 students. Construction began concurrently on both buildings in November 2021. The Upper School construction was staggered slightly to optimize workflow and resource allocation. By April 2022, the Tilt-Up Contractor completed the entire concrete and steel scope for each building. The academy opened its doors to start the school year in Fall 2023.

Both buildings share several design elements, including centrally located multi-purpose gymnasiums, 15-inch thick feature panels with deep recesses, added reveals, and cast-in signage. Four externally placed stairwell towers on each building enhance movement throughout the schools and provide an additional aesthetic. Like many others during 2021/2022, these buildings also feature wide flange roof structures due to open web joist availability.

The Lower School spans 34,825 square feet on the first floor and 26,865 square feet on the second floor. It features an 85'x100' gymnasium with a 29-foot tall rear entry panel connected only at a low canopy. The Upper School covers 43,295 square feet on the first floor and 29,595 square feet on the second floor. It also includes a 99'x108' central gymnasium featuring fabricated double-pitched top chord trusses with W24 ridge beams. Interior tilt-up panels throughout the floor plan created durable gym and corridor walls, with some also pairing with cast-in-place platforms to form a portion of the bleachers.

Limited casting space and material storage required innovative solutions. The total slab area was 78,120 square feet, with much of its usable casting surface being interrupted by raised stages, ramps, interior panel locations, and elevators. A total gross panel area of 101,615 square feet required finding solutions by stack casting panels, using temporary casting beds, and planning an intricate erection sequence. Despite these challenges, the project was completed ahead of schedule, showcasing the efficiency of Tilt-Up construction in reducing timelines and costs. The Bonnie Cone Leadership Academy's new upper and lower school buildings are exemplary models of Tilt-Up construction. They provide a growing community with durable, safe, and aesthetically pleasing educational facilities."

What obstacles were overcome related to the schedule, budget, program, specification, site, etc. on this project?

The project team faced various obstacles while delivering the buildings and had to weigh each decision's pros and cons carefully. Due to limited building slab availability for panel casting, temporary casting slabs were necessary. The construction team had to consider the budget impact of these while also effectively managing space constraints related to restricted crane access and material storage. Building both structures concurrently required extraordinarily detailed and tight schedules for successful completion.

Please communicate any engineering complexities or unique features of the panel design for this project?

The construction of each building involved using custom-fabricated trusses to create clear spans in the gymnasiums. Interior Tilt-Up panels supported these trusses while also picking up the loads from the lower main roof structure. Unique structural connections and embeds were designed to transfer the loads to heavily reinforced closed-tie panel reinforcement. In the Upper School's central gymnasium, two 99-foot custom fabricated double-pitched top chord trusses were used. These trusses carried W24 ridge beams and created a clear span across the gym, connecting to the interior tilt-up panels.

What is the potential for this project's impact on the community and/or environment?

With a rapidly growing population, these new facilities assist the public school system in providing high-quality options. The addition of these schools also provides a high school option for their existing off-site sister school. Since opening, the additional space has also enabled them to partner with preschool and Pre-K programs to provide much-needed support to the community that has yet to enter the public school system.

Main banner image for Bonnie Cone Leadership Academy Buildings (K-6 & 7-12)

Project Location

Huntersville, NC 28070
United States

Project Images


Project Team (TCA Members)

General Contractor:
Concrete Contractor:
Citadel Contractors, Inc.

Project Specifics

Project Category:
Building Types:
Classroom Building
Applied Ornament
Exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS)
Paint (Textured)
Shadow Panels
Post Applied (Interior)
Number of Floors:
Number of Panels:
141 panels
Total Floor Area:
135,580 sq ft (12,595 sq m)
Project Footprint:
78,120 sq ft (7,257 sq m)
Tallest Panel:
36 ft 4 in (11.07 m)
Widest Panel:
45 ft 0 in (13.72 m)
Largest Panel:
1,168 sq ft (108.5 sq m)
Heaviest Panel:
109,210 lbs (49,537 kg)