Cost-Conscious School Design

In March, Managing Principal Gail Sullivan and veteran Project Manager Steve Michener were invited to present at the Massachusetts School Building Authority Designer Roundtable about cost-conscious school design. Joined by colleagues at Arrowstreet and HMFH, Studio G spoke to the ways in which we approach designing cost-conscious, efficient and beautiful buildings. Since Studio G’s inception in 1993, we have built over 20 public and independent schools and over 30 early education centers, and have earned a reputation for delivering successful projects on modest budgets.  These projects include 10 Charter Schools in the Commonwealth with budgets of $280-350/ SF, lower than average for recent MSBA schools.  Studio G shared key elements of our cost-conscious design approach.

Materials and Systems for Cost-Conscious School Design

Key elements of cost-conscious design approach

  • Simple Massing and Structure: every variation in massing volume or material should be meaningful
  • Flexible, Multi-Purpose Spaces: including use of nearby community resources:  library, auditorium, athletic fields
  • Exterior Cladding and Finishes: use Construction Managers to test market, identify current cost-conscious options
  • Interior Finishes: emphasis on durability, indoor air quality
  • Pre-Engineered Gymnasium Design: steel frame and insulated metal panels, expedited schedule
  • Building Systems, HVAC Design: based on life-cycle costing, energy use over time
  • Process for Cost-Conscious Design: provide data for client decision-making
  • Integrated Design Process: collaboration to ensure effective choices
  • Discipline and Rigor: perseverance throughout programming and design processes

Cafeteria serves as a multipurpose hall for morning meeting and study hall

Entry corridor is separated from cafeteria with a minimal glass partition

Excel Academy Charter School in East Boston, pictured above, is our most recently completed school project. Excel Academy was built for under $300/SF, came in $1M under budget and opened one month early.

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