Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC)

Dedham, Massachusetts \ 4 Dedham Public Schools \ January 2019 \ $21.7 M \ Construction $2.6M


  • 310 Pupils in Pre-K & Kindergarten \ Single-Story 52,000 sf New School
  • An in-depth feasibility study provided the School Building Committee with valuable information that enabled the preferred solution to secure approval via a Landslide Town Meeting Vote (a ballot vote was not required).
  • Took advantage of a favorable bidding climate by developing a Ch. 149 Early-Release Site Package for the extensive site development required, including significant ledge removal.
  • With the endorsement of the MSBA, this facility was designed as, not only an Early Childhood Center, but also as a Welcome Center for Families and Students who are either New to the Town or New to the Dedham Public School System.
  • The design takes full advantage of its bucolic setting and significant attention was given to creating an appropriately scaled environment for the town’s early learners.
  • This building established the new standard for Security and Technology-Based Learning in the Dedham Public School system.

Our team was selected to work with the Town of Dedham to determine how best to provide an appropriate Early Childhood program for 310 of the District’s Pre-K and Kindergarten students that was housed in a severely ill-suited teaching environment at the former Curran Elementary School. Our designers led the District through an exhaustive design process that explored 14 Options on 5 Different Sites, resulting in an evaluation matrix that allowed the School Building Committee to set aside various biases and unite around the eventual solution—a 52,000 SF stand-alone Pre-Kindergarten/ Kindergarten Early Childhood Center located on a delightful 20-acre wooded site that once housed the decommissioned 24,000 SF Dexter Elementary School. Care and attention was given to siting the building appropriately and providing clear and safe circulation patterns for vehicular and pedestrian flow on the site, including work on State Highway 109. The scale of the building, with its hip roofs and multiple classroom ‘pods’, is responsive to the size of the young learners it houses. The materials, colors, and textures used on the exterior take their cue from natural site elements including ledge outcroppings and the colorful vegetation that surrounds the building. Most of the site remains vegetated and a seasonal brook behind the school remains untouched. From within the classroom spaces, windows and framed views take full advantage of the building’s solar orientation and the surrounding site features. Our design includes an outdoor learning space that is protected within a courtyard, with a seating wall and a teaching wall. Natural lighting is abundant throughout the school and the building layout provides a logical, inviting floor plan that is easy to navigate and, more importantly, is an exciting place for the Dedham’s early learners as they embark on the start of their educational experience.

Gerry-Coffin-Bell Elementary School Consolidation

Marblehead, Massachusetts \ 450 Pupils in Grades PreK-3 \ 86,000 SF New School


  • Vigorous Community Outreach via Educational Visioning Workshops, a Listening Tour, and Multiple Public Forums.
  • Developed Educational Programs, 23 Conceptual Designs and Site Test Fits for Two Different Target Enrollments (160 and 450 pupils).
  • Performed existing conditions and site analysis at 4 Existing Schools and 6 Different Sites.
  • Developed a highly detailed Traffic and Neighborhood Impact Analysis.
  • Assisted a 24-Person Building Committee with widely divergent interests and opinions in reaching a Unanimous Vote on a Preferred Option.
  • New Elementary School approved by 2:1 margin at ballot vote.

The Town of Marblehead has spent the last two decades implementing a master plan for the modernization of its K-12 schools. Its most recent project was the construction of a new 425-Pupil Glover School that consolidated two PK-3 neighborhood school districts. RDA was hired in 2017 to assist the District in determining the best course of action to address programmatic and parity needs at the two remaining PK-3 neighborhood schools, currently housed in four different buildings on three different sites. Marblehead is projected to experience declining enrollments into the foreseeable future and the MSBA directed the District to study options for both New and Addition/Renovation projects housing both 160-Pupils and 450-Pupils. The construction of a 160-Pupil school would consolidate two of the four school buildings and maintain the ‘neighborhood school’ model. A 450-Pupil school would consolidate all four school buildings and provide operational efficiencies and programmatic parity with the recently completed Glover School. RDA provided the District and Building Committee with (23) different development options spread over six sites, including one that involved a potential land swap with the Recreation Dept. RDA provided the District with a detailed analysis of program, play space, traffic impacts, operating costs, massing/shadow impacts, phasing, permitting, and project costs. The Committee unanimously approved the construction of a new 450-Pupil school on an existing school site.

Thurgood Marshall Middle School

Orange, Massachusetts \ 5 April 2016 \ $67.7M Construction Cost \ $90M Project Cost \ $6.8M \ 1,100 Pupils in Grades 6–8 \ Four-Story 181,850 SF New School on a Tight Urban Site


  • Exceptional budget control – Zero External Change Orders.
  • Compact plan layout responsive to program & neighborhood context.
  • MSBA Model School Designation.
  • Superior energy performance – 38.7% more efficient than Mass Energy Code requirements.
  • LEED Gold Certification. Awarded 19 of 19 possible pts for energy-efficiency.
  • Extensive site selection study with multiple sites considered – Tight Urban Site Chosen.
  • Pile foundation system with Geo-environmental Remediation on an urban fill site.
  • Building envelope designed to mitigate noise from adjacent commuter rail line.
  • CM-at-Risk procurement w/ Fast-Track early packages Opened 4 Mos Ahead of Schedule.

RDA was selected to work with the City of Lynn and the MSBA in 2012 to identify the best solution for the replacement of the existing 1920’s-era Thurgood Marshall Middle School. A detailed study of potential sites within the city ensued and RDA was able to design a state-of-the-art new middle school on a site only two blocks from the existing school – a site that had previously been assumed to be too long and narrow for a school. The four-story school is constructed on a pile foundation system and makes use of a building envelope designed to mitigate noise from passing commuter trains right outside the second floor windows. This 1,100 pupil middle school was laid out with 9 team-teaching clusters of 120 pupils. Each color-coded cluster is a ‘dead end’ off a centrally located ‘vertical wayfinding core’, assuring segregated Small Learning Communities. Pupils from other clusters have no reason to walk through other clusters. Core facilities are located on the first floor, including a unique two-sided stage serving both the Cafetorium and Gymnasium which is sized to seat the entire school community at once – an ability that the school never had, and one of its favorite features.

New Uxbridge High School

Uxbridge, Massachusetts \ September 2012 \ $34.0 M (bldg) \ 5.0 M (fields) \ $39.0 M Total \ 600 Pupils in Grades 9–12 \ 2.5-Story \ 123,000 SF \ $3.8M New School on an Undeveloped Site


  • Selected as a MSBA Model School in 2016, demonstrating exceptional design and flexibility.
  • Site Selection Study included archeological survey and endangered species mitigation.
  • Compact plan layout that is responsive to its program and is 12,000 square feet below the most recent MSBA space standards, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in construction cost.
  • Superior Energy Performance – 35.2% more efficient than code requirements at the time.
  • HVAC units installed in attics to ease maintenance and mitigate the effects of ill-weather.
  • Design-related change orders limited to ½ of 1% on a complicated sloped roof structure.
  • CM-at-Risk procurement w/ Fast-Track early packages to accelerate occupancy schedule.
  • Exceptional Budget Control – This building had the Lowest Cost per Square Foot of any comparable new MSBA-funded high school project bid within one year before or after it.

RDA was selected to work with the Town of Uxbridge in 2009 to replace the town’s antiquated high school. From the exterior, this school feels both ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ at the same time. It makes subtle use of traditional building forms such as brick walls, pediments, pitched roofs, a double-gabled facade marking the front entry, and a functioning cupola that bathes the interior entrance lobby with natural light. These features contrast with contemporary design features such as soaring aluminum curtainwall facades, horizontal solar shades, translucent skylights, composite sheathing panels, and most notably, its two-story daylit ‘Commons’, with its unique undulating wall that pays homage to the historic granite locks and water flow on the nearby Blackstone River. Its low cost is especially remarkable given that Uxbridge High School is not simply a ‘flat-roofed box’, but instead features sloped-roofs and a multitude of other durable and desirable features such as superior energy efficiency, high ceilings, abundant daylighting, a state-of-the-art performance hall, an array of flex-space, and a 1:1 technology ratio.