Henryville Schools
Henryville, Indiana, USA

BHDP Architecture
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Glazing Contractor / Window Installer:
Stanley Schultze & Co., Inc.
Louisville, Kentucky, USA

General Contractor:
Birmingham, Michigan, USA

Kawneer and Traco Products:
350 Medium Stile Entrances
Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 451 Framing
TR-3500 3-1/4" Overlap Projected Thermal Windows (Project Out)
TR-3800 3-1/4" Fixed Thermal Windows

Just after 3:00 p.m. on Friday, March 2, 2012, a category F4 tornado ravaged the town of Henryville, Indiana, directly hitting the Henryville Schools’ campus, which houses the elementary school and is connected to the junior and senior high school. Though school had been dismissed early and most students made it home in time to find shelter, one bus returned to the school because the driver feared they could not make it home safely before the tornado arrived. That afternoon, more than 80 students and teachers huddled inside school offices as the tornado tore through the buildings. In a March 5 interview with Indiana’s Fox59, junior and senior high school principal Troy Albert said, “We had two hits and the hail storm... but 85 people walked out of that building and not a scratch on us.”

Cameras inside and outside the buildings captured footage of the tornado as it tore through the schools, destroying buildings, ripping off the roof and bringing down ceilings. After the tornado, school and state officials vowed to try and rebuild in time for the coming school year. Birmingham, Michigan-based BELFOR served as the general contractor for the project. As a worldwide leader in disaster recovery and property restoration, BELFOR was able to assess the damage and create a schedule that would ensure the completion of the job within the timeframe needed by the school system.

Longtime customer Louisville, Kentucky-based Stanley Schultze & Co., Inc. served as the project’s glazing contractor and window installer. “After walking through the buildings for the first time, I went home and hugged my family,” said Alan Gates, project manager with the company. “The damage was extensive. Parts of the building were ripped in half like a piece of paper. The fact that there were people inside the buildings during the tornado and everyone was okay, well, that’s unbelievable.” 

BHDP Architecture in Cincinnati spearheaded the design of the Henryville Schools’ rebuild. The original buildings used entrances and windows from Kawneer and Traco, and after assessing the damage post-tornado, the architect and owner decided to use products from the company again for the rebuild. Products included Kawneer’s 350 Medium Stile Entrances with Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 451 Framing at the door jambs and sidelight areas, and Traco’s TR-3500 3-1/4" Overlap Projected Thermal Windows and TR-3800 3-1/4" Fixed Thermal Windows. 

According to Gates, the original doors and windows from Kawneer and Traco held up well against the tornado. He noted, “Of all the window and door units throughout the buildings, only one complete window unit was lost in the tornado, which really demonstrates the strength and durability of the units and is one of the reasons the school system wanted to rebuild using products from the same trusted brands.” 

During reconstruction, every exterior entrance was replaced, along with several doors on the interior of the buildings. 350 Medium Stile Entrances provide extra strength for applications with high use, such as schools, and can be easily integrated into the Trifab® 451 VG framing system. The TR-3500 and TR-3800 windows offer clean aesthetics, durability and integrated thermal performance. High-performance insulating glass with Heat Mirror™ Suspended Coated Film Technology from Southwall Insulating Glass in Chicago was used throughout the building to achieve high thermal performance, maximize occupant comfort, control UV radiation and help with noise control.

Meeting the deadline required extended workdays and larger installation crews as well as fast work on everybody’s part, including Kawneer and Traco, who had to manufacture products in a compressed timeframe. According to an article on wthr.com, “The $54-million construction project should have taken more than three times as long as it did. But a crew of 300 [had worked] almost 24-7 since just days after the tornado struck.” 

“One of the biggest challenges we faced was building the products with enough time to get things shipped and installed,” said Mike Bettice, Architectural Sales Representative for Kawneer North America. “And because the damage to the buildings was so severe, we were discovering additional doors that needed replacing after the initial order had been placed.”

The tornadoes that hit the town of Henryville were a part of a line of tornadoes that swept through the midwestern and southern United States. Southern Indiana was among the most devastated areas.  But, on August 7, just five months after the tornado, Henryville students returned to a newly reconstructed facility. 

Response from students, faculty, parents and the Henryville community has been overwhelmingly positive. The design of the new schools was very similar to the previous facilities, so students were able to return to school on time and be in a space that was both new and completely familiar.

“To get this project completed on time – especially with shortened manufacturing cycles and delivery times – took a tremendous amount of coordination and teamwork,” said Tim Moyer, LEED AP, Window Specialist, Kawneer/Traco. “The devastation from this tornado was mind-blowing, but from the time we set foot on campus a few weeks after the tornado hit, we knew we wanted to get these kids back in their buildings by the new school year. We are so pleased to have done just that.”