Miller Completes Miami Lighthouse Academy’s Expansion

Miami LighthouseNEWS

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind Adds New, Highly Accessible K – Grade 2 Classrooms For Its Nationally Acclaimed Children’s Learning Programs

Completing a complex, fast-tracked nine-month build in time for the new school year, Miller Construction this month delivered a five-story, 30,000-square-foot expansion that brings the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind new, highly accessible Kindergarten through Grade 2 classrooms serving blind and visually-impaired students.

Expansion of the innovative Miami Lighthouse Academy at Miami Lighthouse for the Blind’s campus added 8,595 square feet of classroom and office space, plus two levels of covered parking. At Miami Lighthouse Academy — a nationally recognized model for educational inclusion and classroom readiness — blind and visually impaired children ages one through four from throughout Miami-Dade County learn side-by-side with sighted pre-school classmates from the surrounding community. The expansion’s new classrooms provide the Academy with a learning environment dedicated for blind students in Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2, preparing them for an easy transition to public schools.

Designed by Wolfberg Alvarez & Partners, the project expanded Miami Lighthouse’s existing 115,000-square-foot building footprint to encompass the organization’s entire 1.39-acre site at 601 SW 8th Avenue. Miami Lighthouse for the Blind remained fully operational throughout construction, as Miller’s team worked to ensure convenience and safety of the organization’s staff and clients.

“The Lighthouse had made a series of expansions, growing through the decades at its site,” said Miller Construction President Brian Sudduth. “This project tied all sections together for efficiency and esthetic appeal, while providing flex space for the future. We’re proud to be part of a community partnership that’s making a tremendous difference for so many children and families,” he added.

Miller’s project connected on each of four stories with a parking and classroom structure that was completed at the site in 2018. Challenges included precisely matching floor elevations, tying into the existing storm drainage system and ensuring the new and older buildings’ finishes matched. Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) for detecting potential clashes and coordinating trades, Miller expedited the schedule.

Aligned with Miami Lighthouse’s mission of serving the visually impaired of all ages, all signage and elevators in the new space incorporate Braille. Three stair towers that lead to specific locations help students exit the building safely, and the expansion included a safe new playground and green space where students can play and learn orientation and mobility skills and grow and maintain an edible garden.