The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 19, 2010

High School renovation may cost $108 million

Architect Michael Rosenfeld estimates that the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) renovation design currently being considered would cost roughly $108 million to build, while he estimated a new structure would cost $111 million. If ultimately approved, Carlisle’s share would be roughly 30% of the net cost after any state reimbursement. He and members of his firm, The Office of Michael Rosenfeld (OMR), presented the cost data to the Concord-CCHS Facilities Master Plan Committee at its March 10 meeting.

Over the past nine months OMR and the committee have developed a Master Plan for renovating the high school. They will present their report and final recommendations to the public at two upcoming events: at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24, at the Willard School Auditorium and again at a meeting sponsored by the CCHS Parents Association at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 29, in the high school library. OMR also designed Concord’s Willard School Building. This school is located at 185 Powder Mill Road in Concord, off Sudbury Road, about a mile south of Route 2.

May Town Meeting asked to vote $1.3 million for feasibility study

At the March 10 meeting, Rosenfeld reviewed what will be discussed at the March 24 meeting: the Master Plan goals, the CCHS deficiencies in both the physical sense and space for the academic programs, the possible timeline and phasing for the renovation and the cost. The committee discussed how all of these points substantiate the reason for the $1.3 million request to fund a feasibility study and design schematics, as required for the partnership with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). Concord and Carlisle will vote this Warrant Article at their respective Annual Town Meetings, which in Carlisle will be held on Monday, May 10.

The conceptual design transforms the current high school by increasing the size of the auditorium from roughly 500 to 750 seats, adding space for art, removing the upper gym, upgrading the lower gym, adding spaces for an aerobic and weight room, adding a field house with three basketball courts and a 180-yard track, demolishing the existing I, L and S buildings and replacing the H building with a three-story structure for academic clusters and a “learning commons.” A library and new cafeteria will be part of the learning commons. The building will be optimized for natural light and energy efficiency. The current building has over 70 doors. The new building will have six major entries, making it more secure.


Rosenfeld laid out a possible timeline for construction. If the Warrant Article passes this spring, site work could begin in the spring of 2012. Rosenfeld said it was a 30- to 36- month project. Students will use new portions of the building as they are completed. The new addition might be completed by as early as the fall of 2014, although site work would continue past that date.

Earlier, Facilities Manager Dave Anderson had suggested to Rosenfeld that the current mechanical and electrical systems are close to or at end-of-life now and it would be beneficial to have new utilities and systems in early. Rosenfeld agreed and the new mechanical and electrical systems will be part of the first phase of construction along with the field house, fitness rooms, new cafeteria and kitchen areas. There would be no classroom displacement during this time. Once the new cafeteria is completed, the old cafeteria would be renovated to become an area for student support services and administrative offices. Having these offices at the front door would be more logical than at the current location.

In the summer of 2013, the H building would be demolished. Classes would be moved into the “I” building and the athletic spaces. The library could be moved into the lower gym. Then the three-story building would be constructed. Rosenfeld said that classes in the “S” building along the inner courtyard would be most vulnerable to noise.

When the three-story addition is completed, staff and students will move into this space. Then the I, L and S buildings would be demolished and site work would be completed.

Renovation vs new construction

Rosenfeld estimated that if a high school were built on a new site, it would take roughly 30 months to complete. Renovating the existing site would take approximately six months longer. The committee likes the current site of the high school with its closeness to the Beede Center.

Rosenfeld then went into cost comparisons between new construction and renovation. He said the site work, building costs and construction costs would be less for an existing site than a new site. By tallying up various costs, Rosenfeld said that renovating the school would roughly cost $288 per-square-foot and new construction would cost roughly $296 per-square-foot. He compared these costs to costs of schools recently under construction.

Enrollment, space needs

The size of the proposed renovation is larger than the current building, due to changing educational programs and space needs, rather than simply changes in enrollment. Enrollment at CCHS has varied considerably through the years (see Table 1 below.) Over the past six years, enrollment has been flat and is forecast to decline gradually for several years (see Table 2 below). The Master Plan is using a preliminary enrollment forecast of 1,250 students, according to Deputy Superintendent John Flaherty, who explained, “The number is based on a review of NESDEC and MSBA’s enrollment models, and our internal expectations, which are based on our actual enrollments being higher than NESDEC projections. Our observation is that birth rates are not as significant a factor in Concord and Carlisle enrollments as professional couples often start their families in Boston, Cambridge and other urban areas and then move to our communities to begin their children’s education.”

Rosenfeld summarized the detailed analysis that had been done of the spaces at CCHS and categorized how much additional space was needed for each educational program. He noted the existing high school is 233,000 square feet. The proposed OMR plan calls for 288,000 square feet. The MSBA Guideline for a high school of 1,250 students is 231,000 square feet, smaller than the present CCHS footprint. Rosenfeld explained the difference. In the OMR concept, the upper gym is removed and a 35,800 square-foot field house has been added. The field house has three basketball courts that are surrounded by a 180-foot track. The other 21,000 square feet of additional space is spread across the academic and arts programs.

The committee discussed what the MSBA might be willing to reimburse. OMR architect and Project Manager Jeanne Roberts said the MSBA will not reimburse field houses. She added that the MSBA guidelines change so it is not an easy answer.

Roberts explained that the feasibility study will be used by the MSBA to determine what the best path is, whether it is renovation or new construction or a combination of both. Re-imbursement from MSBA will be clear by the end of that process. A ballpark estimate of reimbursement of eligible costs is 40%.

The field house construction costs were estimated at $10.8 million, but that did not include soft costs which may be an additional 30%. Rosenfeld said the field house can be isolated, which the MSBA likes to see. “It’s a big structure.” It has a lot of volume and there’s a lot of air that must be moved through it, which drives construction costs up.

The committee discussed the need for alternatives to the field house. The plan calls for the removal of the upper gym, so something would have to be built to replace it. It was noted that building the field house first was key to the phasing of the project as it would be used as “swing” space for temporary classrooms.

Salemy reiterated that the building has to last for at least the next 50 years adding, “we want to build something sustainable.” (See also, “Proposed CCHS renovation explained” on page 5.) ∆

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