Design Process Overview

The Andover High School project is currently in the Schematic Design phase. Click each tab below to learn more about the process and steps taken since 2016 to reach this point, and the decisions that still need to be made to define the project scope and cost.

During the current Schematic Design phase, every aspect of the project scrutinized and refined with feedback from stakeholders throughout the schools, town, and community. Your feedback is critical to make sure the project meets the needs of Andover residents, and we thank you for engaging in the process.

Executing Against a Long-Range Facility Plan


In 2016, the town hired the national facility assessment and planning organization MGT of America Consulting to conduct an analysis of all Andover town and school buildings, and develop a comprehensive facility plan to assist with long-term planning.


The MGT study concluded the school facilities with the greatest needs were: Shawsheen Preschool, West Elementary and Doherty Middle School due to facility condition; and Andover High School due to overcrowding condition.


To gain community feedback and prioritize potential projects for these facilities, the school department conducted public forums and tours at West Elementary, Doherty and Andover High.


This process led the School Committee to submit West Elementary as a priority project for partnership with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) and, in parallel, establish the Andover High School Feasibility Study Committee to examine options for a high school project.


West Elementary was accepted to the highly competitive MSBA program in 2017, on its first submission, due to the poor condition of the facility. Success of the West Elementary also project solves needs at multiple other school facilities: The scope includes a pre-kindergarten, which will allow the decommission of the failing Shawsheen facility; and the new school adds district capacity at the elementary level, which will relieve overcrowding at other K-5 schools (including Sanborn which has expanded into modular classrooms and was identified by MGT as in need of relief).


The Andover High School Facility Study Committee began its work in January of 2017, and that space evaluation evolved into the Andover High School Building Committee which remains active today.

January 2017 - February 2022


The Andover High School Facility Study Committee was formed in January 2017 and spent several years conducting a preliminary feasibility study with the firm HMFH Architects. This work initially relied up on previous space studies undertaken for AHS.


The Committee’s goals were to explore options for building improvements in these interrelated areas:


  1. Enhance safety and security
  2. Eliminate overcrowding
  3. Accommodate enrollment growth
  4. Support educational program and delivery
  5. Improve physical environment
  6. Improve site use and campus circulation


During more than 50 community and public meetings, including weekly meetings with the architects, 11 project options of varying scope were developed and considered. The options fell into three primary categories:


  1. safety and security upgrade only, with ongoing significant maintenance
  2. new addition plus major renovation of the existing school structure
  3. new school building, with option to maintain the field house and Collins Center as community assets


Importantly, the preliminary feasibility study did not find any option that minimally addressed both the educational delivery and the physical environment of the building for less than $100 million (in 2018 dollars).


No previous space or architectural study of Andover High had identified the extent of work required to modernize aspects of the facility that improve building systems and comfort. For example the work revealed that significant energy and HVAC improvements are only possible if both the mechanical systems and a large portion of the building exterior envelope are replaced, which alone would have cost more than $40 million back in 2018.


Additionally, this work helped to quantify the space in the current school versus modern standards, leading to the conclusion classrooms are too small in addition to being too few, and the types of spaces offered do not support modern best practices, including delivery of special education services.


In early 2022, the AHS Facility Study Committee recommended to the School Committee a Building Committee be formed to move the project toward design and construction. The School Committee then voted to have the Town Manager create the Andover High School Building Committee, with the charge of developing plans for either (a) an addition and renovation of the existing high school or (b) a new high school. This came after the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) denied Andover’s request to help fund an Andover High project for the eighth time since 2008.


The Town Manager issued a solicitation to the community, conducted interviews, and ultimately selected a Building Committee comprised of a cross-section of Andover residents and other experts with construction, educational, and financial experience. The Building Committee began its work in the summer of 2022.

AHS Building Committee, July 2022 to April 2023


The Feasibility Study Phase began with defining a design enrollment for the project; developing the District’s Educational Plan; and meeting with the AHS Building Committee, Andover Public Schools staff and leadership, Town departments, and community to establish project goals and requirements. This information informed the development of various preliminary site approaches.


Meetings with Andover Public Schools educators, staff, and leadership included educational visioning sessions and space programming discussions. These meetings allowed the team to articulate plans for educational delivery, and determine the types, number, size, and adjacencies of spaces within the building.


Through this process, HMFH Architects initially developed 11 site approaches for a new or renovated Andover High School. Each approach was designed to meet the Educational Plan developed by Andover Public Schools.


The existing site has several challenges that needed to be considered:

a. The campus will remain occupied during any construction
-  Existing high school and West Middle will remain operational during renovation and/or construction
-  Collins Center, Field House, and the AndoverTV studio are all used by the public
-   Fields and courts should remain in use
b.  The presence of extensive wetlands
c.   Ledge outcroppings are on the site
d.  Additional topography concerns
e.  Site has access and parking challenges
f.  ADA accessibility needs to be maintained throughout any project


The Building Committee developed evaluation criteria (refer to slides 36-39 of the presentation) to compare various site approaches. Considerations included the ability to meet project goals of: improving the educational program, minimizing the impact of construction, improving use of the site and traffic circulation, providing equitable access beyond ADA requirements, including sustainability features, providing amenities important to the community, and the relative cost of each approach.


Cost figures presented during the Feasibility Study stage are always preliminary, simply based on total gross floor area of different schemes, and escalated using industry standard multipliers to arrive at a total project cost. The Building Committee looked at these comparative feasibility design cost estimates to narrow the final three design options to a single, preferred option.


Ultimately - after several months of meetings and forums with project stakeholders, and input from the Andover community - on April 6, 2023, the Building Committee unanimously selected the "Campus 2 with New Auditorium" option as the preferred building approach.


Reasons cited by the Committee for choosing this option included: it is the most efficient building/site layout, is the least disruptive to students, it has the shortest construction duration, and it is the most financially responsible option.


Further information on the process that led to the preferred option and reasons for its selection can be found in the Updates from 4/6/2023 Building Committee Meeting news post.


The Andover School Committee voted to accept this selection as the singe preferred option at their April 6, 2023 meeting, and the Andover Select Board also affirmed this preferred option at their June 12, 2023 meeting.


The preliminary, feasibility-level cost estimate for the "Campus 2 with New Auditorium" option was $480,847,000 in March 2023. The project scope will continue to be scrutinized and refined during the Schematic Design phase, including evaluation of items that could be removed from or added to this initial project base.


The project will go through another round of cost estimating, next time with the benefit of a more detailed scope developed during Schematic Design. That new cost estimate will be available to the community for consideration prior to town votes for construction funding.

AHS Building Committee, April 2023 to present


During the Schematic Design phase, the single preferred option is developed, with every aspect of the project scrutinized and refined with feedback from stakeholders throughout the schools, town, and community.


The Building Committee continues to hold regular public meetings and forums where potential cost-saving measures and added scope items are reviewed and discussed.


The largest areas of potential cost deduction will come through examination of the Space Summary and consideration of alternate materials.


Added-scope items under consideration would increase project cost and include: solar panel ownership, use of porous pavement, expansion of the plateau to a competition-sized field, use of a heavy timber structure, inclusion of a skate park, addition of a parking garage, addition of sports lighting at one or more fields, use of sustainable irrigation, enclosing a walkway between the school and field house, and upgrading the mechanical plant.


More information on each of these cost-deduction and added-scope items can be found in the Design Topics of Interest section of this website.


Also during the Schematic Design phase, the project architects present options and solicit feedback on building designs, floor plan layouts, material use, and other functional elements; and Landscape architects and traffic consultants work with stakeholders to present options for optimal site layout and vehicle/bike/walk paths.


At the July 13, 2023 AHS Building Committee meeting, HMFH Architects presented a draft Schematic Design work plan (refer to slides 3-10 of the presentation) outlining the anticipated topics of discussions for upcoming AHS Building Committee Meetings and the potential timing for each decision (timing subject to change).


Schematic Design-level drawings & specifications will be produced from this phase, and the project will have sufficient detail to establish a scope, budget, and schedule.


The phase will conclude with another cost estimating exercise, this time meant to establish the total project budget for consideration of approval by Andover voters.