The project is a comprehensive redesign and rebuild of the high school facility (built in the 1970s) to accommodate the design enrollment of 1,370 students for grades 9 – 12 (the 2014-15 high school enrollment was 1,164 students). The project consists of the new construction of administration/guidance offices, music classrooms, media center and the enclosure of the center courtyard to create a central dining/meeting commons. Most of the original building will be stripped down to the concrete slabs and vertical pilings and rebuilt from the foundation.

By the end of the project, the 20,000 square feet of the basement will be decommissioned and all building systems will be moved to the first floor.

The renovated auditorium improves the overall finishes, addresses acoustics, and updates performance/meeting equipment within the space. The original gymnasium space, which is over-sized compared to what the state would permit for new construction, will receive the least level of renovation and will reuse much of the existing fixtures and equipment.

Project Background

Feasibility Study:

In November, 2010 town meeting approved $1.3 million in funding to launch a feasibility study to investigate and determine the most cost efficient and practical plan for the Winchester High School (WHS).  Architect SMMA and Project Manager Skanska were hired to manage and provide all project deliverables.

The study, mandated by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), required the town first to extensively examine the school’s location alternatives, submit the best four options and highlight the preferred choice.  A full report was submitted in February 2013, and the MSBA approved the preferred reconstruction and addition at the current site.

The second deliverable included target enrollment projections, an education program review, and the corresponding space requirements.  WHS enrollment was established at 1,370 students, a growth of more than 250 students over the 2010 enrollment. To address this capacity issue, 10 additional classrooms must be added.  Twenty-five of the building’s 39 original classrooms fail to meet state standards for square footage, and critical science classrooms need to be modified.  (The Education Program report is available online.)

The feasibility study also analyzed in detail the state of the 1970s facility around building code, safety, site assessment, and sustainability.

Schematic design:

In February 2013, the MSBA approved the preferred reconstruction/addition alternative, projected enrollment target, and agreed to move forward our project towards the design phase.


The full construction project began in the summer of 2014 and will be substantially completed by the start of school in 2017.   New construction of 24,563 square feet includes the enclosing of the center courtyard for a dining commons, some administrative space and a new acoustically correct music suite.  The project scope includes a full rebuild of all academic spaces (264,277 square feet) down to slabs and foundation piles and a less severe renovation of the auditorium and gymnasium facility.  The basement (20,302 square feet) will be decommissioned to prevent any further flooding risks and all building systems will be relocated to the first floor.  Work will be completed in three phases to take full opportunity of summer months when staff and students are not in the building. (A description of the phasing for the proposed project can be found online)

In August 2013 the Town submitted Schematic design, including an estimated budget for the full project considering such elements as site work, furniture and equipment, portables leases for swing space during construction and contingency resources.  Residents can review the entire schematic design or can learn more about how the proposed project design addresses various elements of the program and facility.

Project Approval and Budget:

The Total Project Budget was estimated in 2013 at $129.9 million with approximately $101.1 million in construction costs.  On October 2, 2013, the State voted to support the project with a maximum grant of $44.5 million.  Winchester approved a debt-exclusion override in December 2013 to provide its share (estimated at $85.4 million).  An overview of the project costs is available online, as is the full budget breakdown.

In November 2014, the EFPBC voted to approve the construction cost of the project called the Gross Maximum Price (GMP), based upon the work of the Construction Manager at Risk (CM), including bidding. The GMP originally came in approximately $200,00 under the original budget.  Because of this difference, the EFPBC chose to include in the project four line items designated as alternates.  This means that if the actual final cost is less than the GMP (approximately $101.2 million), these items could be incorporated.

View a comparison chart with other Massachusetts High Schools here.