Driscoll School Building Project

  • August 24 Community Newsletter

    July 14 Project Update from the Driscoll Project Team

    May 20 School Building Advisory Committee Presentation (Budget)

    Where we are:

    • Bids received March 23rd
    • $5.6 Million over the project budget of $92.8 Million
    • Filed Sub Bids $1.1M over budget
      • Major overruns: HVAC ($1.6M), Electrical ($468k), and Miscellaneous Metals ($300k)
    • Non-filed Bids $4.5M over budget
      • Major overruns: Steel, concrete, drywall, millwork, curtainwall, and landscaping 

    Significant value management (VM) across many trades is required to get the project back within budget. The Team has developed a VM list that that will ensure bids do not come in over budget when the project goes back out to bid. Currently, the priced items total approximately $7.1M. 

    • Identified significant Value Engineering items –
      • no significant educational impacts – all changes reviewed with the School
      • building will still be Fossil Fuel Free 
    • Architecture
      • Simplify interior finishes without sacrificing acoustical performance. Reduce wood trim.
      • Simplify geometry without affecting room sizes
      • Remove residual exterior sunshade / trellis
      • Remove canopy at Washington Street entrance
      • Simplify exterior window system
      • Simplify exterior details and materials without affecting performance
      • Simplify project area and break out space geometry
      • Remove balcony at Media Center 
    • Structure
      • Simplify exterior perimeter details
      • Lower floor to floor heights by 8” at upper floors
      • Simplify concrete pours where possible 
    • HVAC
      • Bring scope in line with Ridley, without affecting comfort or air changes per hour
      • Simplify metering and controls
      • Substitute radiant ceiling panels for radiant light shelves
      • Simplify diffuser connection at curved classroom wall 
    • Electrical
      • Bring scope in line with Ridley
      • Simplify metering and controls
      • Remove Audio Visual scope from construction documents and purchase through the Project’s soft cost FF&E/Technology budget
    • Landscape
      • Simplify materials such as railings and site furniture without affecting playgrounds or longevity
      • Reduce size, quantity, and type of boulders
      • Simplify concrete finishes
      • Reduce density of shrub / perennial plantings
      • Remove pergola structure

    How we got here:

    It’s important to understand that this project followed a process that received more cost input than is typical. Below are some of the steps the project took to ensure cost certainty at bid time:

    • Estimates were provided early at 50% DD rather than relying solely on the customary 100% DD estimate
    • Additional estimates were conducted at the 100% DD, 60% CD, and 90% CD milestones
    • The 60% estimate included a 3rd estimator
    • A market study was completed at the end of 2020 to better understand where the market was headed in these unprecedented times
    • When necessary along the way, the project preformed VM studies to bring the project back within budget 

    Potential contributing factors for bids coming in higher than anticipated include:

    • The major inflation spike that the market is currently going through, which was not obvious even 6-8 weeks ago
      • Significant increases in the price of copper, steel, lumber
    • Even with multiple estimators reviewing the same drawings, the estimates don’t seem to have captured the more challenging aspects of the design of the project
      • VM items decrease customization and create more efficiency for manufacturing parts and during installation
    • The bid process included six addenda, which may have complicated the pricing exercise
      • This issue will be resolved in the next round of bidding as JLA will be issuing a conformed set of documents that include the information issued by addenda in the first round of bidding 

    Next steps: 

    To achieve the above and maintain a September 2023 school opening, the team will follow the timeline below: 

    • April 16th – Jonathan Levi Architects (JLA) provided a new set of construction documents
    • April 22nd – Documents became available to bidders
    • May 13th – Bids are due
    • Week of May 24th – Gilbane GMP to be approved by Building Commission, School Committee, Select Board
    • Mid-June – Gilbane mobilizes and begins construction onsite


  • The Driscoll School Building Project began in 2018 as part of the Public Schools of Brookline's long-term capital plan to address overcrowded schools, substandard facilities, and historic enrollment growth experienced by the district over the past ten years. Located on 64 Westbourne Terrace, the Driscoll School currently serves over 600 K-8 students in the Town of Brookline.

    On December 10, 2019, the Town of Brookline voters approved a $115.3M debt exclusion override to fund the construction of a brand new school building and play-space around the Driscoll neighborhood. The new building is sized to accommodate the school's projected enrollment growth, for an expected enrollment of 36 classrooms and approximately 800 K-08 students.

    The school is anticipated to open in Winter 2023.

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    To stay up-to-date on this project, please click here and follow the directions to sign up for the Driscoll School Building Committee Notify Me list. 


    Project Team

    Driscoll School Building Advisory Committee

    Susan Wolf Ditkoff, Co-Chair
    Heather Hamilton, Co-Chair

    Public Schools of Brookline/Town of Brookline

    Tony Guigli, Project Manager (Building Department)
    Matt Gillis, Project Manager (Public Schools of Brookline)

    Construction Manager

    Gilbane Building Company
    10 Channel Center Street, Suite 100
    Boston, MA 02210

    Owner's Project Manager

    Leftfield LLC
    225 Franklin Street
    Boston, MA 02110


    Jonathan Levi Architects
    266 Beacon Street
    Boston, MA 02116

    Building Specifications

    School Type

    4 classrooms per grade K-8th Grade

    Expanded Services

    3 Pre-School/Pre-K (BEEP) classes, Special Education (LAHB - Language & Academic Home Base), Native Language Support Program (Russian)

    Projected Number of Students

    800 (+140 from SY 2018-19)

    Total Number of Core Classrooms

    36 (+8 from SY 2018-19)

    Preliminary Staffing (including Kitchen and Custodial)

    140 (+33 from SY 2018-19)

    Preliminary Size of School

    154,260 Sq. Ft. (+56,260 from SY 2018-19)

Previous Updates

  • Brookline Voters and Town Meeting Members move Driscoll School Building Project to Design Development

    On December 10, Town of Brookline voters approved a debt exclusion override to fund the new Driscoll School. This vote came shortly after Town Meeting Members set the project cost at $115.3M during the November Town Meeting. 

    The project is now in the Design Development phase, during which final design, floor plans, and architectural drawings will be completed. The Driscoll School Building Advisory Committee and architects will be meeting over the next few months to prepare for the construction process. The first meeting for 2020 is scheduled for Thursday, January 9, from 7:30 - 9:30 a.m.

    We anticipate that the construction of the new Driscoll School will tentatively begin in late 2020 or early 2021. As these details are fleshed out, we will continue to involve families, staff, and community members throughout the process. There will also be many opportunities for you to provide input and feedback on this transition.

    Driscoll Schematic Design Phase Nearing Completion 

    With the release of final schematic design plans and refined construction cost and project cost estimates, the Schematic Design Phase for the renovated and expanded Driscoll School is nearing completion. During the week of February 25, the Driscoll School Building Advisory Committee and the School Committee reviewed the final schematic design and cost estimates in separate meetings.  On March 5, 2019, the Select Board reviewed the building plans and cost estimates and held a public hearing on whether funding for the Driscoll School Building Project should be put on the Town-wide ballot.

    The Building Committee will host a community meeting on March 20 at the Driscoll School at 6:30 p.m. for community members to get a full update on the project and provide public input. For the schedule of all public meetings, please go to the Upcoming Public Meetings page. 

    Driscoll School Renovation and Expansion Project enters Schematic Design Phase

    In December 2018, Town Meeting voted strongly in favor of moving forward the Driscoll School Renovation and Expansion project into the Schematic Design Phase. The 216 to 4 vote to allocate $1.5 million to the project allows the Driscoll School Building Advisory Committee and architects to further develop the preferred design “Option H – Modified Star”.

    Starting in January 2019, the Driscoll School Renovation and Expansion Project has entered the Schematic Design Phase. During this phase, the architectural firm Jonathan Levi Architects will develop designs for the exterior facade of the new building, including the layout of the building’s technical systems such as electrical and plumbing. Additionally, it is expected that detailed cost estimates and floor plans for the project will be provided. The Schematic Design Phase will also include input from Driscoll staff and community members, in order to develop a modern learning environment that best supports the Driscoll neighborhood. The cost estimates developed during this phase will also be the basis for the funding request that goes to Town Meeting in Spring 2019 and the anticipated debt exclusion override to fund construction.

    Driscoll School Building Committee Recommends the “Modified Star” Design as the Preferred Option

    After working throughout the fall, the Driscoll School Building Advisory Committee has selected a preferred design option for the Driscoll School Building Project. Identifying these preferred designs is an essential step in the three-school, a town-wide solution that will address the overcrowding and sub-standard learning spaces in the Public Schools of Brookline and begin to remedy the historic enrollment increases the Town has experienced for more than 10 years.

    On November 15, the Driscoll School Building Advisory Committee selected Option H as the preferred design over three other designs. The committee identified Option H, known as the “Modified Star Design,” as the best option for many reasons including that it provides the best and most flexible arrangement of classrooms, increases useable play space by 20,000 square feet, and allows for the most daylighting of all the four options.

    The school will be completely rebuilt and replace the existing building.  It will be reoriented onto Washington Street, allowing the site’s open space to be more fully integrated into the residential neighborhood of Westbourne Terrace, Bartlett Street, and Bartlett Crescent and opening up the views of those who live on Westbourne Terrace which is now blocked by the existing building.

    For a full list of presentations and studies, please follow this link.

  • Driscoll Renovation and Expansion: Overview and Background

    Since 2005, Brookline has experienced historic enrollment growth in its public schools. Our K-8 elementary schools have grown by 40%, going from 3,904 students in 2006 to 5,482 students in 2017, which is equivalent to adding three schools into our existing schools in just over 10 years.

    For a decade now, the Town and School Department have been addressing the expanding student population by studying potential sites for a new elementary school. Additional classrooms in existing schools were also created by dividing existing spaces, renting private buildings, and/or building new classrooms through modular classes. Despite adding nearly 60 classrooms to our existing schools through this “Expand-in-Place” strategy, the schools continue to be severely overcrowded.

    On June 13, 2018 the Town completed its third study since 2013 on selecting a site for a new school. The Select Board and School Committee approved moving forward with expanding the Baldwin School, expanding and renovating the Driscoll School, and renovating and possibly expanding the Pierce School.

    Expanding and renovating Baldwin, Driscoll, and Pierce over time allows the town to address the enrollment increases in North Brookline and South Brookline while not overbuilding in either part of town. The Baldwin School will directly address the ongoing and expected student enrollment growth that is projected to add 375 more students within five years. Driscoll and Pierce have both grown by more than 57% since 2006, and neither school has received significant upgrades since the 1970s. The Baldwin and Driscoll projects are now in the Design Feasibility Phase. In the spring of 2018, the Town submitted an application to partner with the Massachusetts School Building Authority to help ease the burden on the town of three significant capital projects.


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Project Timeline

  • Access the complete project schedule here.

    • Fall 2023: Complete Occupancy for Students and Staff

    • May 2021: Construction Commences

    • February 2021: Technical Drawings Complete

    • January 2020: Design Development Phase Begins

    • December 2019: Town of Brookline voters Approve Debt Override to Fund Construction

    • November 2019: Town Meeting Approved Cost of Construction

    • March 2019: Schematic Design Phase Completed

    • January 2019: Schematic Design Phase Begins

    • December 2018: Town Meeting Approved Schematic Design Funding

    • November 2018: Cost Estimates and Preferred Design Finalized and shared with Town Boards and Community Members

    • September 2018: Design Feasibility Phase Begins

    *Last Updated: August 4, 2020